Kenya to convert Shakahola Forest into national memorial site

Thursday June 08 2023

Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary of Interior and Administration of National Government Prof Kithure Kindiki. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NMG


Kenya’s government intends to convert Shakahola Forest into a national memorial site in honour of people who died in the Paul Mackenzie-led cult, according to Cabinet Secretary of Interior and Administration of National Government Prof Kithure Kindiki.

In consultation with the local community and the families of the deceased, the forest will be turned into a place of solace and remembrance for those affected.

Prof Kindiki said the state will begin implementation of the proposed change of use once the ongoing search and rescue operation and the recovery of bodies are concluded.

shakahola graves

Investigators carrying bodies exhumed from graves at Shakahola Forest in Malindi, Kenya on April 22, 2023. PHOTOS | WACHIRA MWANGI | NMG

“This is not a place that can be reverted to farming, ranching and other human activities because the souls of our brothers and sisters, adults and children that we’ve lost here, require much more dignity than that,” he said, adding that the memorial site will ensure that Kenya and the world never forget that there was this kind of “outrage on humanity”.

Read: I’m heartbroken, woman says over brother in Kenya cult


"Once the investigating agencies clear the place of crime in consultation with the local community and members of the public, we will convene a national congregation of all religious faiths within this vicinity so that the believers can converge in solidarity with our people whom we have lost," he added.

Meanwhile, the third phase of the exhumation of bodies in the land linked to Mackenzie kicked off on Tuesday with nine bodies being exhumed.

“The death toll now stands at 251 since the operation kicked off in April,” Coast Regional Commissioner Rhoda Onyancha, said, adding that the number of those rescued is at 95 as arrests remain at 35.

Read: Kenyan cult death toll rises to 226

"Those that have identified their family members so far are 19 and the DNA samples collected are 93," Onyancha further noted.

However, those that have reported their people missing are at 613, with little rescue activity witnessed in the last five days.