“Mackenzie operated a ruthless, efficient militia-like enterprise that killed about 500 people,” DPP tells court

The Director of Public Prosecutions explained to Shanzu Law court how Paul Nthenge Mackenzie operated a “ruthless and efficient” well-organized criminal enterprise that massacred about 500 people at Shakahola forest.

Senior Principal Magistrate Leah Juma heard that the militia-like enterprise was not a fringe group but rather a well-organized one under the guise of a church under Mackenzie’s leadership.

The court heard that the gang carried systematic massacres under an intricate governance system, complete with communication and transportation networks and security measures to enforce Mackenzie’s ruthless directives.

The prosecution team stated it will present 90 witnesses to paint a vivid picture of the blood bath that occurred within the secluded expansive Shakahola forest.

Hon. Juma further heard that Mackenzie and his deputy, Smart Deri Mwakalama were the main protagonists in the horrendous murder and slaughter of vulnerable women and children.

The DPP team stated that the witnesses, some of whom are vulnerable and under protection, will recount how the accused firmly controlled the group’s activities.

“Throughout the presentation of evidence to support the charges, witnesses will recount incidents that establish facts that are either explanatory, introductory, show a common intention or motive, or are caused by other facts, or demonstrate a pattern that may be the subject of a trial in the aforementioned courts,” stated the ODPP.

The Court heard that witnesses’ “testimonies will reveal their acceptance of the fate advocated for and embraced as a transcendent state of blissful and heroic transition to spiritual realms, albeit through actions classified as either murder or manslaughter”.

The prosecution team further told Hon. Juma they will pray to the court to conduct a site visit deep into Shakahola forest or adopt scientific reports that reconstruct the crime scene.

Prosecution posit that the evidence will reveal how the actions of the accused stem from the same series of events and transactions to commit several crimes against the surviving minors.

The evidence presented by the prosecution will illustrate the presence of an extremist ideology promoted by the accused, the court heard.

The prosecution submitted that it has water tight evidence to place all the 95 accused persons at the epicentre of the Shakahola massacre for the court to convict and sentence them accordingly.

Mackenzie and 94 others are charged with engaging in organized criminal activity, radicalization and facilitating the Commission of a Terrorist Act, and being in possession of an article connected with an Offence under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2012.

It is alleged that on various dates between 2020 and 2023, the accused persons, who were members of the Good News International Ministries, an organized criminal group, engaged in organized criminal activities at Kwa Mackenzie area of Shakahola Forest, Chakama Location of Magarini Sub-County within Kilifi County, endangering lives and killing 429 members and followers.

They are also accused of promoting and/or adopting an extreme belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence namely fasting to death by advancing religious change, which occurred between 2020 and 2023 at Shakahola Forest within Kilifi County.

The accused persons are also said to have facilitated the commission of a terrorist act by transporting the members and followers of Good News International Ministries between Shakahola Forest and Malindi Township within Kilifi County, thereby endangering their lives.

It is alleged that Paul Nthenge Mackenzie and two others, within the same period at Furunzi area in Malindi Sub-County within Kilifi County, were found knowingly in possession of CDs, DVDs, books and pamphlets for use in instigating the commission of a terrorist act, namely endangering the lives of the members and followers of the Good News International Ministries.