Workers carry the exhumed bodies in bodybags to the mortuary, at the mass grave site in Shakahola
Workers carry the exhumed bodies in bodybags to the mortuary, at the mass grave site in Shakahola AFP


  • Investigators asked a Nairobi court to hold cult leader Paul Nthenge Mackenzie for 90 more days
  • Kenya's interior minister believes that the killings were an organized crime
  • Kenyan President William Ruto ordered the establishment of inquiry to investigate the massacre

Some of the corpses found in mass graves linked to a Kenyan cult had missing organs, authorities in Kenya said.

A total of 133 bodies have so far been found on property belonging to self-styled religious leader Paul Nthenge Mackenzie, the founder of the Good News International Church, since the discovery of the mass graves last month, Anadolu Agency reported.

Most of the bodies exhumed in Shakahola forest near the Kenyan coastal town of Malindi in Kilifi County were believed to belong to followers of Mackenzie, who is accused of ordering them to starve to death in order "to meet Jesus," The Guardian reported.

Although starvation appears to be the main cause of death, autopsies on the corpses revealed that some of the victims – including children – were strangled, beaten or suffocated to death, according to Dr. Johansen Oduor, the government's chief pathologist.

Coastal Regional Commissioner Rhoda Onyancha told the media Tuesday that some 566 people have gone missing in the area, and some who were members of the church are suspected to have been buried in the mass graves.

"We have 21 bodies exhumed today from nine graves, and this exercise will continue tomorrow. The latest exhumations took the overall toll to 133," Onyancha said Tuesday, per Anadolu Agency.

Investigators said autopsies revealed that some bodies had missing organs, which raised suspicions that they might be victims of forced harvesting of body parts, according to court documents filed Monday.

"Postmortem reports have established missing organs in some of the bodies of victims who have been exhumed," chief inspector Martin Munene said in an affidavit filed to a Nairobi court.

Munene also said that they "believed that trade on human body organs has been well coordinated involving several players." The chief inspector did not provide any more details on the suspected human trafficking.

Munene said that another high-profile religious leader Ezekiel Odero received "huge cash transactions" allegedly from Mackenzie's followers who sold their belongings and properties upon instruction of their leader.

Odero was arrested last month in connection with the same case but was granted bail Thursday.

The court in Nairobi ordered the freezing of Odero's more than 20 bank accounts for 30 days.

Mackenzie surrendered to authorities on April 14 after police acting on a tipoff first entered Shakahola forest, where at least 30 mass graves have been found.

Prosecutors are asking the court to hold Mackenzie for 90 more days until authorities complete their investigations.

Kenya's Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki described what has been dubbed the "Shakahola forest massacre" as a highly organized crime, saying that the mass graves were just too many to be considered a simple crime.

As such, Kenyan President William Ruto ordered the establishment of a commission of inquiry to investigate the deaths of the Christian cult followers, media outlet Africanews reported.

An aerial view of the mass-grave site at Shakahola
An aerial view of the mass-grave site at Shakahola AFP