The controversial evangelist Paul Nthenge Mackenzie is accused of mass killings of more than 105 people in Shakahola forest in Kilifi County.
- How Pastor Paul Mackenzie begun his cult like Good News International Church
- Mackenzie’s source of mysterious wealth and power
- How Mackenzie managed to convince his followers to starve to death for them to meet Jesus
- Investigations into Shakahola massacre and what happened
The controversial evangelist Paul Nthenge Mackenzie started his church in 2003 as a small evangelical center at Migingo village in Malindi alongside his wife Joyce Mwikamba. He registered the church as Good News International.
His wife was the assistant pastor while Mackenzie claimed to have supernatural powers and could speak to God directly. Arguably, this enabled MacKenzie to amass a cultic following by convincing his congregation that he possessed the ability to speak directly to God.
Mackenzie acquired a TV station
In 2016 Mackenzie acquired a TV station after one of his followers is alleged to have sold his property at a cost of 20million and handed over the money to Mackenzie, the man is said to have later died in unclear circumstance.
Several cases of people selling their properties and giving to Mackenzie’s church as they wait to meet Jesus would then follow.
The recent one being an air hostess who quit her job, left her family and sold all her belonging and took the money to Mackenzie.
Betty Ajenta Charles, a successful air hostess from Doha, Qatar, who quit her 11 year job, left her husband and sold her lifelong investments at a throw away price of 7 million, and took the money to Mackenzie.
Betty is suspected to be among the dead bodies being retrieved in graves in Shakahola. Her son Jason is believed to have starved to death under his grandparents’ watch in March.
The heartbreaking decision to leave her family behind raises many questions about the power and influence of the cult’s leader, Mackenzie.
Betty’s sister, Constance Chao, also quit her job in the military to join the church. Her whereabouts and condition remain unknown. Their brother, Michael also went missing.
Through this TV station, Mckenzie reached so many people and his teachings were basically on end times, evilness of western ways of life like medical services, education, food, sports, music etc.
Mackenzie dwelt on the uselessness of life and stressed on the afterlife. He preached about the second coming of Christ which according to him was so soon – His timeline of the second coming was always less than a year.
Mackenzie’s TV station closed
In 2018, the Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) led by Dr. Ezekiel Mutua, ordered the immediate closure of MacKenzie’s TV station.
The directive came in the wake of MacKenzie and his wife had been arraigned in court for religious radicalization and promoting an extreme belief system.
It is unclear how this case ended and despite the orders to shut down the TV station, McKenzie continued with it something that showed how connected he might have been.
Mackenzie lock horns with Cabinet Secretary Aisha Jumwa
In December 2018, controversial pastor Paul Mackenzie, locked horns with Public Service and Gender Cabinet Secretary Aisha Jumwa over his church activities.
The controversial preacher, claimed CS Jumwa, then MP for Malindi, was inciting the public against his church, the Good News International.
At the time, Jumwa threatened to storm the premise over claims of radical teachings that have seen children skip school after they were ‘brainwashed’ to believe that education was ‘satanic’.
CS Jumwa is said to have accused Mackenzie of giving bribes to security agencies to prevent the church from being closed down.
“It is absurd that despite having been arrested about three times and charged, the pastor is still scot-free and continues with his work of radicalising school children,” said Jumwa at a past address.
In a quick rebuttal, Pastor Mackenzie warned CS Jumwa against her plot, vowing to take action against her and other politicians opposed to his religious activities.
“If anyone feels offended about my summons and teachings in accordance to the scripture, let them go to court and produce evidence, I am not afraid to serve my god,” he said during a church service.
Church and School closed
In 2019, Mackenzie would again hit headlines when four siblings from Mumias left home for his church and went missing, three of them would later resurface.
This led him to close his Church and unregistered school in Migingo and moved to Shakaola leaving his family behind.
People who went to see him at where his previous church used to be in Migingo were referred to his Shakaola farm and according to neighbours, a lot of people went there but few left.
He had fasting supervisors who would monitor the poor souls in the bush as they starved to death. These are also the same people who worked for him as undertakers.
It is claimed that while leaving Migingo and closing his church, he sold the TV station and one of his vehicle to Pastor Ezekiel of New Life and even some of his evangelization tools.
As he brainwashed other people and their children to die in order to meet Jesus, his family is living their best from what the fools give him as they prepare for the ‘holy’ Journey.
Mackenzie is accused of forcing his followers to fast in order to meet with Jesus before buring them at shakahola forest.
End of the Road and discovery of Mass graves in Shakahola
On 23/3/2023, Paul Mackenzie left Malindi court a happy man after securing a bond of 10,000, in a case in which he was linked to the murder of two children in Shakahola village OB No. 12/17/3/2023
The court documents indicated that the parents of the two children on advice from Mackenzie starved and suffocated the two till death on 16th and 17th respectively.
The decision to arrest Mackenzie was arrived at days later but with no legal backing police could not detain him.
Mackenzie had hired lawyers who worked around the clock to ensure that he remained incognito and prevented his re-arrest.
According to detectives investigating Mackenzie, the suspect succeeded in his plans because the cultic activities were concealed and went undetected in the near by villages.
But soon tension arose after 10 people from Shakahola and Msimba villages got injured after being attacked for being members of the Mackenzie Cult in Shakahola.
Those attacked were shopping for food for Mackenzie and his associates. According to DCI officers this was a turning point, some of the victims who were questioned disclosed secrets behind the activities that were going on in the forest.
On 14th of April DCI officers made a discovery of four people who had died of starvation while 10 others got rescued.
According to police report filed on OB No. 07/14/4/2023 detectives were unable to identify the mass graves immediately due to the vast land and hostility by the residents in the 800 hectors piece of land.
Based on these evidences, police traced Mackenzie in Chakama village in his hide out and arrested him. By the time of his re-arrest more than 70 bodies had been exhumed from mass graves within Shakahola forest.
According to Interior cabinet secretary Kithure Kindiki the mass killings happened within a period of one month after Mackenzie was released on a bond of 10,000/- from the police custody.
“He has been arrested and arraigned in court three times but always released on small bond. Most of the deaths that happened here in Shakahola occurred after the last payment of Ksh. 10,000 bond. Had he been jailed at that time, this loss of lives would have not happened.” Said Prof Kindiki.
Why pastor Ezekiel Odero got arrested
Pastor Ezekiel Odero has been linked to alleged mass killings of his followers; this is according to Interior cabinet secretary Kithure Kindiki. The pastor was arrested and taken to DCI headquarters in Mombasa for questioning.
The Coast regional coordinator Rhoda Onyancha confirmed the arrest and said the Pastor was being held by the DCI officers in Mombasa for questioning in relation to the mass deaths that had been reported from his church at Mavueni in Kilifi County.
Ms Onyancha further noted that Ezakiel was not arrested in connection with Mackenzie Saga.