KENYA: Bishops Caution State against Shifting Attention from Shakahola

By Arnold Neliba

NAKURU, MAY 9, 2023 (CISA)-The Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) has urged the government to directly address the crime around Shakahola cult deaths while cautioning authorities on shifting the attention to the regulation of churches.

Speaking on behalf of the Catholic bishops in Nakuru on Saturday, May 6, Archbishop Martin Kivuva Musonde, the President of KCCB also cautioned the government against demonizing Churches.

“As a conference, we are concerned that instead of the government seeking to address the matter, attention is now on the regulation of churches. We are thinking and reflecting what is the way forward. We ask our political leaders to stop demonizing the practice of religion because of an obvious criminal act that would have been abated if our security agencies were alert to the plight of the people of Kenya,” said the archbishop of Mombasa.

The archbishop’s sentiments come days after President William Ruto constituted a presidential taskforce on the review of the Legal and Regulatory Framework Governing Religious Organizations in the country, which saw the appointment of Archbishop Maurice Muhatia of Kisumu to the 14-member team.

According to the Cabinet Secretary for Interior and National Administration in Kenya, Prof Kithure Kindiki, 65 persons have been rescued from the thickets, including two who were evacuated on the morning of May 9 by a multi-agency security team.

“25 people have so far been arrested, and the investigation team is closing in on level two and level three perpetrators who aided Mr Mackenzie to execute the heinous atrocity. The entire 50,000-acre Chakama ranch remains a security area and scene of crime with limited access for all persons who are unauthorized,” said the CS as he oversaw the commencement of the second phase of exhumation of bodies at the Shakahola forest in Kilifi County.

The CS also stated that post-mortem examinations on 112 bodies exhumed from Shakahola have been concluded and search and rescue efforts for persons suspected to be holed up in the thickets and bushes are ongoing.