The country and the world at large is yet to witness an end of the mass murder shocker linked to religious indoctrination and alleged organ harvesting after 21 more bodies were yesterday recovered in mass graves in the Shakahola Forest yesterday.
The second round of exhumation of bodies resumed yesterday even as the government kept the media at bay alongside human rights observers raising fears that the true picture of the genocide-like killings could be shielded from the public glare.
Yesterday, while presiding over the second round of search and rescue efforts and exhumation exercise, although Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki said there are 20 mass graves, The Informer Media Group learnt that at least 50 points suspected to be mass graves have already been “marked and mapped out as possible scenes of crime.” Our source intimated.
“Twenty more fresh graves have been identified which means this process will take longer than we anticipated. I can conclude that this was a highly organised crime and the government will unravel it.” Kindiki said.
He added that exhumation and postmortem will take longer.
So far, a total of 566 people associated with Paul Nthenge Mackenzie’s church, Good News International Church, are reported missing.
Mackenzie is the prime suspect of the indoctrination alongside pastor Ezekiel Odero of the New Life Prayer Centre and Church
Coast Regional Commissioner Rhoda Onyancha said five people were rescued yesterday bringing the total of those rescued so far to 68.
DNA samples have been collected from 93 families with 14 people being reunited with their kin.
While starvation appears to be the main cause of death, some of the victims — including children — were strangled, beaten, or suffocated, according to Chief Government pathologist Johansen Oduor.
According to autopsy results conducted so far, some of the victims died from starvation while others died from asphyxiation, believing they would be meeting Jesus.
Odero and Makenzi have not been charged despite Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Noordin Haji’s earlier assertions that they will face terrorism and radicalisation charges.
Odero was released on a Sh1.5 million cash bail on Thursday last week after a magistrate dismissed the DPP’s application to extend the custodial period by 30 days.
State prosecutor Peter Kiprop asked the court to allow the police to continue holding Odero, saying there was evidence that the deaths that occurred in his church were criminal.
Kiprop said the prosecution was not focusing on gathering evidence to sustain the murder charge against the televangelist.
Meanwhile, Makenzi and 16 others arrested on April 14 are also in custody as the State seeks an extra 90 days for investigations.
Claims of organ harvesting from autopsy conducted on exhumed bodies have cropped up raising fears or more clandestine operations and possibility of existence of an organised cross-border criminal group involved in the illicit trade.
An affidavit of Chief Inspector Martin Munene annexed to an application seeking orders to freeze bank accounts of New Life Centre, linked the massacre to human body organ trade.
Munene claimed the postmortem reveals that some of the 112 bodies recovered had missing organs. This is despite pathologists insisting that all bodies were intact.
The DCI officers swore the affidavit in an application seeking orders to freeze Pastor Odero and church bank accounts.
The Government Pathologist earlier said the autopsy report on the 112 corpses ruled out body organ harvesting. The autopsies were conducted at Malindi Sub County Hospital.
Yesterday, a section of the church objected to the formation of taskforce by president William Ruto to probe and regulate churches.
Also, the Commission of Inquiry formed by the president to probe the Shakahola tragedy was sworn into office despite the opposition Azimio One Kenya Coalition’s rejection after opposition leader Raila Odinga moved to court accusing President William Ruto of acting in contravention of the constitution by forming the commission of inquiry insisting the power was vested in parliament.
The commission is chaired by Court of Appeal judge, Justice Jessie Lesit.