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Pastor Zablon wa Yesu arrested as Shakahola Forest death toll crosses 83

Police officers in Shakahola forest have arrested another senior leader of the Good News International Church associated with Pastor Paul Mackenzie

Inspector General of Police Japhet Koome and Directorate of Criminal Investigations boss Amin Mohamed joined teams at Shakahola forest on Monday, April 24, 2023

During a search and rescue mission for followers of the church at the 800-acre Shakahola forest associated with Pastor Paul Mackenzie, police met a man who identified himself as Pastor Zablon wa Yesu.

Reports from police say that he was found reading the Bible. He was among people rescued from the forest as police discovered more bodies, pushing the death toll to 83.

Inspector General of Police Japhet Koome and Directorate of Criminal Investigations boss Amin Mohamed joined teams at Shakahola forest on Monday, April 24.


Speaking on Monday, April 24, President William Ruto likened Pastor Mackenzie to a terrorist who uses religion to advance his unusual ideologies.

The head of state called for the prosecution of the arrested clergyman, saying that Mackenzie belongs in jail.

We must, as a nation, continuously look out for those who want to abuse, even the religious sector. People are masquerading as religious people, yet what they do is contrary to the teachings and beliefs of religion, whether they are Christian, Muslim or any other religion.

What we are seeing in Shakahola, Kilifi county, is akin to terrorism. There is no difference between Mr Mackenzie who pretends and postures as a pastor when in fact, he is a terrible criminal,” he said.


President Ruto instructed the agencies concerned to investigate the church and get to the root cause of the activities of “people who are using religion to advance weird unacceptable ideology in Kenya that is causing unnecessary loss of life.

The head of state also called for the prosecution of any religious leaders who influence their followers against the tenets of the constitution of Kenya.

Some leaders are said to advise their congregants against sending children to school or against accessing proper health services in hospitals.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday, a section of the family members urged the government to make efforts to find those who may still be alive and hiding in the Shakahola forest.


"I'm here to find some of my family members who joined Paul Mackenzie's church two years ago. I've been here for a week already and I still haven't found them," a man told reporters saying that he had travelled from the Western region to the Coast.

He added: "The police are putting a lot of effort to exhume the dead instead of finding those who may still be alive. Those who are still alive are so many and they are still hiding in the forest."

More relatives have camped at the Malindi Police Station where they are working with the authorities to give more details about their relatives, especially those who can still be reached on phone.


Human rights workers have raised alarm over the number of children being discovered among the dead worshipers.


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