Map of Kilifi County in Kenya’s North Coast where the incident happened. MAP/UGC
By DUKE TSUMA
Four members of Good News International Church have been confirmed dead and scores are missing after they succumbed to hunger while allegedly fasting in preparation to ‘meet’ Jesus in Shakahola Forest in Kilifi County.
Police working on a tip-off from a member of the public were informed that scores of people could have starved to death in Shakahola Forest in Langobaya, Kilifi County after being brainwashed by a pastor that they should fast in preparation to meet Jesus.
“On 13th April 2023 intelligence report was submitted to SCCIO Malindi by one Karume Fondo c/o. 072xx that there are ignorant citizens who are starving to death in pretext to meet Jesus after being brainwashed by a suspect one Makenzie Nthenge a pastor of Good News International Church,” a police report says.
The informant told police that there was a shallow grave inside Shakahola Forest within Langobaya in Malindi Sub County where about 31 people who had been fasting in preparation to meet Jesus were allegedly buried after succumbing to hunger.
“Today, 14Th April 2023, a contingent under the command of SCPC and SCCIO Malindi visited the scene for fact-finding. The team was able to reach few households and managed to rescue fifteen people among them six (who) were emaciated and in critical condition,” the police report adds.
Medical personnel from Malindi County Hospital were alerted about the incident and joined the police in evacuating some of the starving church followers of Good news international Church.
Police said during the operation four of those being rescued succumbed to hunger while being transported to hospital while 11 others who were rescued and admitted at Malindi Sub County Hospital . Three others were said to be in critical condition.
Police said the names of the deceased would be released after finger prints identification process is finalised. Those admitted in hospital includes; Allan Obiero aged 17 years from Majengo Kisumu, Wycliffe Waimoi, 43 years old from Kisumu West and Paul Karisa Katana, from Bamba , Kilifi County.
Others Jane Nyambura, 38 years from Vihiga, Mercy Aoko, 35 years from Kisumu, Felix Wandera, 37 years from Busia, David Abuhaya, 49 years from Vihiga, Collins Kabaye, 22 years from Mbale Busia , Monica Masika, 36 years from Kakamega and Alfred Shitemi, 32 years from Vihiga County.
Police said they were unable to identify the mass grave as they were blocked by hostile residents in the forest and were also hampered by the vastness of Shakahola Forest . Police added that they suspect there are many victims in the forest who they plan to rescue later.