Kenya starvation cult deaths rise to 145
Nairobi, May 11 (EFE).- Police in Kenya say the death toll from a suicide cult who starved themselves to death in southern Kenya has risen to 145, authorities reported on Thursday.
Investigators say the deceased are thought to be members of a Christian sect who starved to death.
Cult leader and preacher Paul Mackenzie Nthenge, of the Good News International Church, told authorities they will find more than 1,000 people who died to “meet Jesus”.
“The exhumations continue and we cannot say right now how many graves have been opened so far,” Coast Regional Commissioner Rhoda Onyancha was quoted as saying by local media.
Onyancha also said that 70 people have been rescued alive to date since authorities started combing the forest and surrounding area in late April.
“So far, 579 families have been able to register their missing persons at the established rescue tables,” she said.
“Those rescued are among those admitted to hospitals and others receiving psychosocial support,” Onyancha added.
According to Chief Government Pathologist Johansen Oduor, while most of the deceased seem to have died of starvation, some of the victims — including children — were strangled, bludgeoned to death or suffocated.
On Wednesday, the Shanzu court, in the coastal city of Mombasa, ordered a 30 extension from May 3 for Nthenge’s detention, along with his wife and 16 other suspects.
Nthenge, a former taxi driver, was arrested in March after being accused of the deaths of two children in similar circumstances but was later released on bail.
On April 14, Kenyan Police raided the site where Nthenge’s followers were fasting and rescued 15 people. Four of them died as they were being taken to a hospital in Malindi.
On May 2, Nthenge and the other detainees appeared in a court hearing in the seaside town of Malindi where the case was transferred to a high court in Mombasa, Kenya’s second-largest city.
The suspects face charges including terrorism, murder, kidnapping, cruelty towards children as well as other crimes.
On May 5, the President of Kenya, William Ruto, appointed a commission of inquiry chaired by Judge Jessie Lesiit to launch a probe into the incident.EFE