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Suspects in Kenyan starvation cult case to be hospitalized after hunger strike

A Kenyan magistrate Tuesday ordered the main suspect in a doomsday starvation cult and 94 of his followers to receive emergency care after some of the suspects had to be carried into the courtroom to answer manslaughter charges, too frail and weak to “even open their eyes” after an apparent hunger strike.

At the law courts in the coastal town of Mombasa, Chief Magistrate Alex Ithuku directed Paul Mackenzie, his wife Rhoda Maweu and others charged with 238 counts of manslaughter to be escorted to hospital for an immediate doctors’ examination.

The visibly emaciated suspects pleaded not guilty on all counts, which were read out over four and half hours.


Doomsday cult leader Paul Mackenzie and some of his followers have been blamed for the deaths of 429 members of his Good News International Church, many of whom are believed to have starved themselves in the belief that by doing so they would meet Jesus Christ before the world ends.

Paul Mackenzie

Preacher and doomsday cult leader Paul Mackenzie appears in court in Malindi, Kenya, on May 2, 2023. (AP Photo)

This took place between January 2021 and September 2023 at Shakahola area in Malindi Sub-County within Kilifi County, according to prosecutors.

Ithuku, who visited the suspects in the basement cells of the court, said afterwards that he observed some could barely stand or open their eyes, so he was calling for them to be treated immediately.

Earlier this month, Mackenzie and 94 of his followers were charged with murdering 191 children, of whom only 11 have been identified, according to the prosecution charge sheet.

The bodies were discovered in dozens of shallow graves on an 800-acre ranch in a remote area known as Shakahola Forest in the coastal county of Kilifi. The graves were found after police rescued 15 emaciated church members who told investigators that Mackenzie had allegedly instructed them to fast to death before the world ends. Four of the 15 died after they were taken to a hospital.

Autopsies on some of the bodies found in the graves showed they died from starvation, strangulation or suffocation.

Kenya’s chief government pathologist Dr. Johansen Oduor said last week the government will resume the search for and recovery of more bodies from the Shakahola Forest from March.


The exercise had been halted so that autopsies and DNA analysis could be done on the 429 bodies already recovered, Oduor said.

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