According to a senior Kenyan official, the death toll in an ongoing investigation connected to a cult, which engaged in starvation practices to “meet Jesus Christ,” has now surpassed 400, following the discovery of 12 additional bodies on Monday.
Coast Regional Commissioner Rhoda Onyancha informed media via a message that the total death toll has reached 403.
This update comes after the recent round of exhumations conducted in the Shakahola forest, where cult leader Paul Nthenge Mackenzie allegedly encouraged his followers to perish through starvation.
Onyancha added that the process of “exhumation will continue tomorrow,” as investigators persist in their search for additional graves within the forest.
Government autopsies indicate that starvation appears to have been the primary cause of death in the investigation.
However, it has also been revealed that some victims, including children, were subjected to acts of strangulation, beating, or suffocation.
Since mid-April, Mackenzie, a former taxi driver who later became a preacher, has remained in police custody.
Although he has not been required to enter any plea, state prosecutors have indicated that Mackenzie is facing charges related to terrorism or genocide.
How Mackenzie eluded law enforcement despite a history of extremism and prior legal cases has raised concerns and prompted questions.