(Malindi) Twenty-six new bodies were exhumed on Sunday in eastern Kenya, bringing to more than 50 the number of remains discovered for more than a week in the investigation into the deaths of followers of a sect whose chief said to fast to “meet Jesus”.
“Today we exhumed 26 bodies, bringing the total number to 47” since Friday, Charles Kamau, head of criminal investigations for Malindi sub-county (east), told AFP, adding that the search continue to find other bodies or possible survivors in the forest of Shakahola.
The remains of four followers of the International Church of Good News (Good News International Church) led by Makenzie Nthenge had already been found last week by the authorities.
Men dressed in white coveralls and masks continue to dig the ocher earth in search of other bodies, an AFP journalist noted on Sunday.
Followers of the Good News International Church are still hiding in the forest.
A faithful was found on Sunday by the authorities. Eyes bulging, she refused to eat, before being taken to an ambulance.
“She absolutely refused to receive first aid and she resolutely closed her mouth, refusing to be assisted, wanting to continue her fast until death,” Hussein Khalid, a member of Haki Africa, told AFP. who alerted the police to the actions of the Good News International Church.
“We call on the national government to send troops to the ground so that we can go inside [the forest] and rescue these victims who are fasting to death,” he continued. .
“Sufficient security guards have been deployed and the entire forest of almost 320 hectares has been cordoned off and declared a crime scene,” Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki tweeted, saying he will surrender. at the scene on Tuesday.
Several bodies were wrapped in blue tarpaulins, an AFP journalist noted.
Investigators searched the area due to reports of a possible mass grave.
“It’s a big blow and a big shock to our country,” Sebastian Muteti, child protection officer for County Kilifi, told AFP, saying it was “killings of mass “.
Eleven other worshippers, seven men and four women aged between 17 and 49, were hospitalized last week after being rescued from the forest.
The leader of the sect, Makenzie Nthenge, surrendered to the police on April 15, before being taken into custody.
According to local media, six devotees of Makenzie Nthenge were also arrested.
The case is due to go to court on May 2.
In a report seen by AFP, police said they had received reports of people “starving to death under the guise of meeting Jesus after being brainwashed by a suspect, Makenzie Nthenge, pastor of the Good News Church International”.
According to local media, Makenzie Nthenge was arrested and charged last month after two children died of starvation in the care of their parents. He was later released on bail of 100,000 Kenyan shillings (approximately $1,120 Canadian).