Kenya To Release First Cult Massacre Bodies To Families

Kenyan officials plan to release the bodies of five people linked to a doomsday starving cult on Tuesday, in a case that has rocked the country and the world.

The bones are the first to be returned to their families following nearly a year of meticulous DNA identification.

Hundreds of bodies, including those of children, were excavated from shallow mass graves discovered in April of last year in a lonely wilderness inland from the Indian Ocean port of Malindi.

Paul Nthenge Mackenzie, a self-proclaimed preacher, is accused of inciting his followers to starve to death in order to “meet Jesus” in the “Shakahola forest massacre”.

A handful of the 429 bodies exhumed between April and October of last year were positively identified by DNA analysis and are set to be returned to relatives for burial.

While malnutrition killed many people, several remains, especially children, exhibited evidence of asphyxiation, strangulation, or bludgeoning, according to government autopsy.

Francis Wanje, a high school teacher whose family lost eight members in the tragedy, told AFP that they had identified four and would have a burial for them next month.

The loss of his two grandkids prompted detectives to search the wide forest, where they discovered the mass graves.

“We hoped the government would help us with the funeral, but we were left to handle everything ourselves. “Paying for four funerals is not an easy task,” he told AFP on Monday.

A homicide officer with the Directorate of Criminal Investigations told AFP that it was left to families to make their own burial preparations.

Families have endured a terrible wait for the bodies when DNA testing was delayed due to a scarcity of reagents and equipment.

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR), a state-backed organization, condemned the delayed process last week, accusing authorities of suppressing the results for security reasons.

“This is not only delayed justice but also violates their cultural rights under Article 44 of the Constitution to bury their relatives in a culturally acceptable and dignified manner,” according to the study.

“People are anxious and need closure on the matter.”

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