Interior CS Kithure Kindiki warned that culprits found guilty of leading a cult movement in Shakahola village in Kilifi County will be subjected to tough punishments as subjected by the law.
Kindiki deployed police to the village to seal off a forest where mass graves were unearthed.
"The unfolding Shakahola Forest Massacre is the clearest abuse of the constitutionally enshrined human right to freedom of worship under Kenyan law as well as international law.
"While the State remains respectful of religious freedom, this horrendous blight on our conscience must lead not only to the most severe punishment of the perpetrator(s) of the atrocity on so many innocent souls, but tighter regulation (including self-regulation) of every church, mosque, temple or synagogue going forward," Kindiki stated.
He added that a multi-agency security team was unravelling the deaths linked to fasting.
"I have directed the Regional Commissioner for Coast Region together with the Regional Security Team to reinforce the team in Malindi ahead of my visit on Tuesday, April 25.
"Enough security officers have been deployed, and the entire 800-acre forest sealed off and declared a crime scene," Kindiki added.
Security officers have for a week now continued to dig graves where it is suspected the cult buried its members after forced fasting.
On Sunday, April 23, police dug 18 bodies from Shakahola Village bringing a total of 39 bodies.
During the exhumation process, officers found three shallow graves containing six bodies and another grave containing three bodies. Another grave had two people buried in it while another person was buried in a solitary grave.
Reports indicated during the exhumation, a woman who was on the brink of death was rescued by police officers though she was against police officers' efforts to save her.
Paul Mackenzie who is believed to have coerced the deceased members to fast is already in police custody aiding in investigations.
Mackenzie who started his group in 2003 has had several run-ins with the police and he first made news when in 2018, 93 children were rescued from his movement.
The extent of Mackenzie's grip on his faithful continued to astound Kenyans as it emerged that some of his faithful quit high paying jobs and sold their belongings to join his movement.
In March 2023, an air hostess quit her job and flew from Nairobi to Malindi to join become one of Mackenzie's followers. The woman reportedly sold land worth Ksh7 million and took the sum to Mackenzie.
She was accompanied by her sister who quit her military job to relocate to Shakahola Village.
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