Detectives from the Homicide Unit have identified 12 graves in controversial pastor Paul Mackenzie’s land at Shakahola, Magarini Sub-County of Kilifi County.
The homicide detectives from Nairobi accompanied by officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations launched an operation to identify the graves ahead of the exhumation process on Thursday.
The graves were spotted in different areas within the land belonging to Mackenzie who is now being held at Malindi Police Station.
The graves are near houses belonging to the followers of the sect leader, others are in the forest while some are disguised inside farms to prevent them from being detected.
During the operation, the officers also rescued one woman who was in critical condition due to prolonged fasting and was rushed to Malindi Sub County Hospital.
On Wednesday, two more bodies were recovered at Shakahola bringing the total number of dead to eight.
The deceased are believed to be Mackenzie’s followers who fasted to death on his instructions.
The woman who was rescued alive was hiding in one of the shanties where Mackenzie’s followers stayed in agony due to starvation.
The pastor, who has since remained unapologetic, has persuaded congregants at his Good News International Church to starve to death saying it’s a sure way of going to heaven.
The operation from the Homicide Unit is being led by Director General Martin Nyuguto.
Reports indicated that the operation to identify the graves could take up to three days as there are fears there could be more graves that are yet to be identified within the vast land owned by the pastor.
Pastor Mackenzie has 800 acres of land within Chakama ranch and he allocated his followers to build structures to live there.
Relatives of the victims have called on the government to investigate the matter deeply so as to find out whether their kins are dead or alive.
Locals interviewed including former members of the Good News International Church expressed happiness following the identification of the graves.
Titus Mweri Katana, a former member of GNI Church, said he was happy to have moved out of the church as he could not be a victim of starvation.
He said as a community, they are thankful to the government for launching the operation.
“The government has now confirmed that our cry as residents were true because we have shown them graves and rescued a woman who was in her final stages of life due to starvation,” he said.
Katana said the operation will go on until all the victims of Mackenzie get justice.
Humphrey Ngonyo also thanked the government for moving in and locating the graves.
“Operation is going on well, I was really longing for this day to come and I am so happy because I believe justice for those who died will prevail,” he said.
Ngonyo said Mackenzie hired a lorry to relocate some of the followers who were in critical condition. He said it headed towards the Sosobora Malanga area.
He called on the government to advance the search to the Malanga area and look for the vehicle as there could be more people who have died.