Death toll in Kenya starvation cult climbs to 179

Friday May 12 2023

Bodies exhumed from Shakahola Forest are loaded into a police van on May 12, 2023. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NMG


Kenya police on Friday found 29 more bodies in Shakahola Forest, the highest daily count since exhumations began last month, in the probe into cult leader Paul Mackenzie.

The second phase of exhumations began this week, after a team led by the chief government pathologist Johansen Oduor finished examining 112 bodies. The exercise had been suspended due to heavy rains in the area.

Police also reported on Friday that there were no rescues and that the number of suspects arrested over the deaths of members of Mackenzie’s church remained 25.

Read: Kenyan court frees pastor linked to cult leader

The number of people reported missing continued to rise reaching 609.

Detectives also said that focus was going to shift to Mackenzie’s homestead.


Police believe most of the bodies are of Mackenzie’s followers, whom he allegedly ordered to starve to death “to meet Jesus”.

While starvation appears to be the main cause of death, some of the victims including children were strangled, bludgeoned to death or suffocated, according to Oduor.