19 more bodies exhumed in Shakahola, take toll to 303

Wednesday, June 14th, 2023 05:00 | By
19 more bodies exhumed in Shakahola, take toll to 303

The third phase of the exhumation exercise in Shakahola Forest struck a new high after 19 more bodies were exhumed bringing the death toll from the starvation cult to 303.

No rescues were made on Tuesday as the third phase of staking out mass graves in Shakahola forest, a 325-hectare (800-acre) bushland inland from the Indian Ocean town of Malindi, entered its second week.

The government has insisted that it has “a proper case to find the starvation cult leader Paul Mackenzie and all his collaborators culpable for multiple serious crimes including genocide, crimes against humanity, and extermination among others.

 While starvation appears to be the leading cause of death, autopsies conducted by the government revealed that some of the victims, including children, were strangled, beaten, or suffocated.

Some 95 people have been rescued from the forest; while the number of those reported missing was 613, according to police records.

For a long period of time the search and rescue operation has not been able to record cases of survivors signifying that the number of victims that are alive in the forest could diminish.

The government has established that initially Mackenzie and his followers covered 3,716 acres, out of a total of 37,921 acres.

Last week Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki, announced the search and rescue operations were expanded through the services of the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) who are now being involved in opening up security roads within the Shakahola Forest to bolster accessibility and aid the search.

The expansive land will be demarcated into 200 and 500 acres which will be made accessible by security roads.

“We have been supported by the KDF so that we can have systematic search and rescue operations. We are keen to tell the world exactly what happened on our soil. We have nothing to hide. On the search and rescue and identification of graves, the exercise is going on in accordance with international standards,”said Kindiki .

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