A cult in Kenya that allows its followers to deliberately starve to death is making world headlines. Police recovered dozens of bodies after sniffing out the cult’s practices led by Paul Mackenzie Nthenge, then searched for traces of the victims.
Claiming to be a priest, Nthenge was arrested on charges of urging his followers to starve to death in order to “find” God. Until now, the total bodies that the police found reached 90 people, including children. They were all found dead after starving for a long time.
This problem has shocked and infuriated the world community. Not only acting as a cult leader, Nthenge is also an owner of the “Good News” International Church. The house of worship is currently under investigation.
The Shakahola Forest is being combed by police looking for more victims. On Tuesday, April 25, 2023, the police dug up a mass grave in the forest land and found 10 bodies. At the end of the day, 7 bodies were recovered, bringing the total to 90 dead. There were also two living victims who were found in emaciated conditions. The Kenyan government says the death toll is likely to continue to rise.
The “Hunger” Cult That Shocked Kenyans
The Kenyan government was informed in early April of shallow graves with bodies in the forest. They started their search in the Shakahola Forest, near the coastal town of Malindi. After dozens of corpses have been exhumed, the discovery of traces of victims of cults is not expected to end soon. The corpses were people who were reportedly followers of Christian cults. They were told by the cult leader, Paul Mackenzie Nthenge, that they would go to heaven and meet God if they starved themselves.
Nthenge later surrendered to police after the Shakahola raid. The “Shakahola Forest Massacre” is the nickname for the Kenyan cult incident and the resulting deaths. The police stated that the number of victims who died of hunger would continue to increase because there were still many reports of missing people.
Several other members of the “Good News” International Church are allegedly still hiding in the bushes around the Shakahola Forest and are at risk of death if not found immediately. The Kenya Red Cross earlier said that 212 people had been reported missing to their support staff in Malindi. Two of them have returned with their families.
Hussein Khalid, the executive director of the Human Rights Group IPR Africa who first tipped off the police, urged the authorities to send more rescue teams to look for victims of the cult who could still be rescued from the jungle. Just a little too late, more and more lives will be taken from the practice of the Nthenge cult. This extraordinary incident left many people traumatized.
Rescuers found bodies piled on top of each other in a shallow pit. One grave filled with up to six bodies. There was another corpse just left outside on the ground. The good news is that 29 survivors were also found and taken to the hospital.
Hospital Full after Horrible Finding
While the evacuation team continued to search for survivors, the mortuary was running out of space to store bodies. Authorities at the Malindi General Hospital warned that they were starting to get overwhelmed. When the hospital morgue had a capacity of only 40 bodies, officials contacted the Kenya Red Cross for refrigerated containers.
Kenyan President William Ruto vowed to crack down on “unacceptable” religious movements in his country. Ruto likens rogue priests like Nthenge to terrorists who use religious pretexts for their atrocities. He also instructed policy-making bodies to deal with this problem to the root of the problem.
Questions Raising Over the Practices of Heresy in Kenya
Kenyans were outraged and demanded an explanation as to how such a sect could operate undetected. In fact, Nthenge himself has attracted the attention of the police since six years ago. The pastor, who usually preaches on television broadcasts, was arrested in 2017 on charges of radicalism. Nthenge started a conversation about the futility of education and told families not to send their children to school. The reason is because education is not recognized by the Bible.
Nthenge was arrested again last month after two children starved to death while being cared for by their parents. However, he is free on bail of 100,000 Kenyan shillings (about Rp. 1 million). The news has caused quite a stir because after his release, Nthenge continued evangelizing. It then became the focus of the Kenyan people for the negligence that had occurred. The latest information, Nthenge will be tried as a suspect on May 2, 2023.
Kenya has a disturbing history of false priests and cults. Recent incidents of a religious sect urging followers to commit suicide have sparked demands for tighter control of the country’s marginalized faith groups.
Source : Tempo News