Kenyan Government Handing Bodies Over to Relatives of Doomsday Cult Victims

( – Numerous families in Kenya are mourning the deaths of relatives who died in a doomsday cult. The government has been working to identify all 429 victims, many of whom were starved to death in their mission to “go see Jesus.” Officials are handing over the bodies as they determine their identities.

Officials began releasing remains on March 26, 2024, nearly a year following the arrest of the cult’s leader last April. The charges against him didn’t come easy. He had denied that he’d forced his followers to starve, and none of his videotaped sermons provided direct evidence that he had pushed the deadly practice.

In the vein of Jim Jones, the cult’s leader, Paul Mackenzie, allegedly separated his followers from the rest of the world by moving them to a remote location. Mackenzie’s group took to a forested region about 43 miles away from town after his congregation, Good News International Church in Malindi, was shut down in 2019. Followers started commuting between civilization and the commune, but they were allegedly barred from leaving in late 2022.

One member who managed to escape, “Neema,” told BBC News that guards kept her on the cult’s property against her will. She alleged that the sermons ended, and all that was left was to “wait to meet Jesus.” The survivor claims she and two friends secretly planned their exit, waiting for guards to leave for a meal break before digging their way out of a mud-walled hut and running for their lives.

Officials charged Mackenzie and several of his associates with torture and murder in February. They stand accused of killing 191 children and will go to trial on April 23. The disgraced preacher was acquitted in November of additional charges that he used radical preaching to incite violence against Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus and influenced his followers to keep their children out of school.

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