- Cult leader Paul Mackenzie is under investigation for his links to mysterious deaths of church members
- He is currently in jail after handing himself over in mid-April
- He indoctrinated his church members to starve themselves in order to meet Jesus
In a shocking discovery, Kenyan law enforcement exhumed over 20 bodies in multiple graves in Shakahola forest of Kilifi county where ‘spiritual leader’ Paul Nthenge Mackenzie resides. The operation began on Friday, 21 April, and 21 corpses had been recovered by Saturday.
Founded around 2003 by Mackenzie in the Malindi area, GNIC has garnered a cult following and reputation over the last sixteen years for its constant brushes with the law and radical teachings.
The church’s leader, Mackenzie, surrendered himself and was taken into custody on 15 April. The arrest followed the deaths of four members out of eleven rescued from the forest. They had starved themselves for three months under the guidance of Mackenzie and the belief that once they died, they’d meet Jesus.
In 2017 Mackenzie and his wife, Joys Makwimba, pleaded not guilty to a charge of promoting radicalisation. Mackenzie was further charged with disobedience of the law, religious incitement and indoctrination of children in 2019. It was alleged that he was found in possession of cinematographic films intended to incite children against attending school and incite Christians against Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam. In addition, he was charged with distributing unexamined and unclassified films by the Kenya Films Classification Board and operating a filming studio without licensing. That year he announced that he’d shut down the church and the Good News International Church digital TV station.
Despite claiming that he closed his church, his house in Shakahola village was raided last month, and he was again arrested. This time his arrest was in connection with the deaths of two children allegedly killed by their parents, Isaac Ngala and Emily Kaunga. Once again, Mackenzie’s teachings claimed innocent lives as the parents of these kids believed that starving and killing their children meant they’d reach heaven sooner.
Already under investigation, Mackenzie expressed shock over the accusation. “I closed my Good News International church in Malindi in August 2019 and it’s important for people to accept that,” he said. “If a person used to worship with me then, they should do it on their own now and not by my name. Follow Christ and not pastor Mackenzie.” He maintains that he is the target of hostile propaganda from some of his former colleagues.
Mackenzie, however, continued to preach to the members that moved with him to Shakahola. His interestingly strange doctrine encouraged the members of his church to not only starve themselves until death, but he also dissuaded them from sending their children to school and advised them to quit their jobs. “I started becoming suspicious,” Mr Nyongo, a former member, recounted. “When I moved to the village from Malindi, I started a poultry farming business, but he was against it. He does not want anyone to be involved in any economic activities or move from the village to town centers. I became suspicious and quit the church.”
He is still in custody, has denied any involvement or accuracy of the accusations and is pending an appearance in court but has been denied bail.