Four members of a suspected Christian cult starved to death after their leader urged them to fast so they could ‘meet Jesus’ sooner.
Another 11 emaciated followers of a Kenyan church pastor were rescued by police in the Shakahola forest by the southeastern coastal town of Malindi on Thursday.
The force had been tipped off the day before by a worried local about a dozen people starving to death.
The tip-off was about ‘ignorant citizens starving to death under the pretext of meeting Jesus after being brainwashed by a suspect, Makenzie Nthenge, a pastor of Good News International Church’, a police report said.
Officers found the 15 sect members unable to talk or walk at Nthenge’s property.
Only 11 of the fasting followers – including seven men and four women aged between 17 and 49 – made it to Malindi Sub-County Hospital alive.
Of the four who died, three were men and one was a woman.
The police report added: ‘A contingent under the command of SCPC and SCCIO Malindi visited the scene for fact-finding.
‘The team was able to reach few households and managed to rescue 15 people among them six who were emaciated.
‘Medics from Malindi Sub-County Hospital were called in to assist in the evacuation.’
Pastor Paul Makenzie Nthenge surrendered to the police yesterday in Malindi.
The investigation is still undergoing today amid reports of a possible mass grave where other followers could be buried, per AFP.
The police report added: ‘The team were unable to identify the mass grave by virtue of vast land (area) and hostile residents in the forest.
‘It is further suspected that there are many victims in the forest land believed to belong to the suspect.’
Muslim for Human Rights (MUHARI) rapid response officer Francis Auma told Kenyan newspaper The Star: ‘We have been monitoring the situation since we first heard of it.
‘We even went to the ground but failed to access the exact area because of the militia of the sect who openly walk with machetes and other crude weapons.’
Nthenge was arrested and charged last month after ‘brainwashing’ two parents into starving two of their children to death to make them ‘heroes’ before God.
The controversial clergyman then buried the children in a shallow grave in Shakahola, Kenyan online news website TUKO.co.ke reported.
He pleaded not guilty and was released on a police bond of 10,000 Kenyan Shillings (£59) pending a police investigation. He is facing ‘several counts of murder’, police officials said at the time.
Police managed to rescue one of the two children’s siblings, Malindi officer Joseph Yator said.
The child described the ‘suffering his two siblings underwent after being starved for some time before their mother suffocated them to death’.
A source close to the pastor told TUKO.co.ke that Nthenge’s followers – including children – have died as he is against medical treatments.
‘He only believes in prayers,’ the insider alleged, ‘his wife also died after falling sick and he did not take her to the hospital.’
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