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Mackenzie: Cult leader who led legions to d***h

Tuesday, April 25th, 2023 05:30 | By
Mackenzie: Cult leader who led legions to death
Cult leader Peter Nthenge Mackenzie

Cult leader Peter Nthenge Mackenzie, who is being investigated over the deaths of dozens of faithful who worshipped in his church, anchored his ominous teachings on end-time messages.  

Mackenzie is accused of encouraging his cult’s members to fast to death in order to meet Jesus. Some of those who died were buried on his 833-acre land in Malindi, Kilifi county and by yesterday, police had exhumed 47 bodies.

His teachings were calculated to appeal to the vulnerabilities of his flock, mostly rural poor — some of who have been travelling from across the country to his church. Many of these forsook their families while some are believed to have sold off their possessions and donated the earnings to Mackenzie.

Video images captured in the past show Mackenzie commanding the attention of his flock, who readily imbibe every spurious word that drips his venomous cup… and some cheer him on. He feeds his audience with false hopes, promising them a blissful life in Heaven. But to get there, they have to make huge personal sacrifices, turn their backs on material wealth, technology, education, modern medicine, the court system, science and, most of all, reason.

He has been advising his followers to fast… until they “go to Heaven to meet Jesus” and, according to some sources, those who take too long and become too weak are assisted to meet their maker.

Alternative reality

Mackenzie also teaches his flock not to take their children to school or hospital and to “abandon any earthily wealth for God”.  This brainwashing led his victims to create and sustain an alternative reality that eventually drove them into the shallow graves in the thickets of Shakahola, where Mackenzie controls over 800 acres of private land, part of it acquired through subterfuge or coercion of erstwhile friends, associates and cult adherents.

“The devil is here on earth persecuting those of us who have been preaching against school education,” he tells his audience in one of the sermons still available online. “Education is evil. It is not in the plan of God. It is a way to teach our children lesbianism and homosexuality,” he tells parents.

“It is those youngsters who have not gone to school who serve God. Those who proceed to obtain higher education abandon God. Education is anti-Christ. I oppose world(ly) education because it has no room for God.”

The preacher, now in police custody awaiting arraignment for yet to be specified charges, has been running his church — the Good News International Ministries, based on the promise of eternal life — but the bad news is that his teachings have culminated in tens of needless deaths of vulnerable souls, including children.

Public outcry

And although the Cabinet Secretary for the Interior, Prof Kithure Kindiki, has said that great crimes were committed on Mackenzie’s property, he is yet to plead to any charges although investigations are still ongoing.

The last time he appeared in court, he was set free on Sh10,000 bond, and since the crimes committed under the watch of his cult caused a public outcry, he has remained in custody, with police saying he has embarked on his own hunger strike in protest.

A former taxi driver, Mackenzie strongly rallied against the introduction of the Huduma Namba, through which the government sought to have digital records of citizens. He cast the number as the mark of the Beast, the biblical symbol for opposition to God and which is associated with the anti-Christ.

He went a step further and invited foreign preachers to speak out against Huduma Namba, which the government had intended as a digital data card for individuals seeking government services. The card was meant to integrate a person’s government records for ease of identification.

In October 2021, the High Court declared the roll out of Huduma Namba illegal on the grounds that it offended the Data Protection Act. By that time, however, the government had spent more than Sh10 billion. Justice Jairus Ngaah also ruled that the government ought to have conducted an impact assessment before rolling out the cards.

What the government had painstakingly put together, the cleric celebrated when it came asunder.

According to the controversial preacher, science and technology are evil.

He also tells his audiences that family planning methods “kill women”, meaning they should not use it. He also preaches that women should not plait their hair. He also believes childrens’ cartoons are evil.

Mackenzie first came to the limelight in 2017 after police raided his church in Malindi and rescued more than 90 children.

Among those arrested were 35 university students that he had persuaded to abandon their education after making them believe that higher education was “satanic”.

He was charged at the Malindi law courts but was released a year later due to lack of evidence after the students who had been listed as state witnesses declined to testify against him.

Born in Sultan Hamud area, Makueni County in 1960, Mackenzie did not study beyond Form Four. He founded Good News International Church and based his theology on the doomsday teachings of William Branham, an American deliverance minister.

Former hawker

“Mackenzie brainwashed his converts using William Branham’s End of Days Theology, and convinced them that starvation could hasten their escape from this life to be with Jesus,” detectives from the homicide unit said.

Before he went into preaching, Mackenzie was a hawker in Sultan Hamud. He later relocated to Mombasa, where he started preaching in the streets and open air markets. With time, he built a church at Vikatwani, Kisauni sub-county, on a disputed piece land from which he was ejected and his church demolished following a court order.

He later moved to Malindi where he took a break from preaching and worked as a taxi driver.

When he restarted his church and as his ministry grew, he began to take on more responsibilities within the church and in the wider community. He founded several outreach programmes that focused on helping those classified as needy. According to the police, these programmes included youth clubs and counseling services for women.

In 2019, Mackenzie was arrested over claims of inciting his followers and the public against registering for Huduma Namba, which he termed as satanic. The hearing of his case has never kicked off.

The father of 17 children and husband of three is also facing separate charges of religious radicalisation, failing to provide basic education to his children and offering basic education in an unregistered school at God News International church.

Ongoing investigations have revealed that Mackenzie was forcing his children to marry each other, saying this was in accordance with biblical teachings to sustain the family lineage.

He enjoys vast wealth, which includes various parcels of land, motor vehicles, and cash in several bank accounts.

“He lives a lavish life inside the vast Shakahola ranch where he would be seen feasting... If questioned about his appetite he claims that he needs the energy to preach God’s gospel,” reads part of the police report.

Money being held in his bank accounts is believed to be from his followers who, detectives now believe, he forces to surrender before being housed at Shakahola.

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