...By Joseph Benjamin for TDPel Media.
The number of victims linked to a suspected starvation cult in Kenya has risen to 98.
Investigators recently discovered mass graves in the Shakahola forest near the town of Malindi, uncovering a gruesome saga that has been dubbed the “Shakahola Forest Massacre”.
Cult leader Paul Mackenzie Nthenge is accused of driving his followers to death by preaching that starvation was the only path to God.
The discovery of the bodies has prompted calls for a crackdown on fringe religious groups in the largely Christian country.
Ongoing Investigations and Rescues
Police are still investigating the case, and on Wednesday, they found eight more bodies, bringing the total to 98.
The search will continue the following day.
Meanwhile, 39 people have been found alive so far in the 325-hectare bush around Shakahola, and 22 people have been arrested.
However, more bodies are feared to be buried in the area.
The Plight of Families
The state-run Malindi Sub-County Hospital is already stretched well beyond capacity, with dozens of bodies, and families are desperate to know if their loved ones have been found.
Some people have been missing for years, with 311 people, including 150 minors, reported missing to the Kenya Red Cross in Malindi.
Details of the Starvation Cult’s Practices
The alleged practices of Nthenge’s Good News International Church included urging parents to starve their offspring.
Hussein Khalid, executive director of the rights group Haki Africa, which tipped off the police about Nthenge’s activities, said that the cult appeared to require children to starve first, followed by women, and finally men.
The majority of the dead were children, highlighting the macabre nature of the cult’s practices.
The victims’ bodies were wrapped in cotton shrouds and buried in shallow pits.
Government Response and Questions
Kenya’s President William Ruto has promised to take action against rogue pastors like Nthenge who use religion to advance weird, unacceptable ideology.
However, questions remain about how the cult was able to operate undetected despite Nthenge attracting police attention six years ago.
The televangelist was arrested in 2017 on charges of “radicalisation” after urging families not to send their children to school, saying education was not recognized by the Bible.
The Shakahola Forest Massacre is a horrific reminder of the dangers of extremist groups and the need for the government to take a stand against such fringe religious organizations.
The investigation into the cult’s practices is ongoing, and many families are still waiting for news of their loved ones.
The plight of the victims and their families is a tragedy that should never be forgotten.
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