Government Pathologist Johansen Oduor Seeks Kes 100M Operational Costs For Shakahola Deaths’

Government Pathologist Johansen Oduor has requested an additional KES 100 million in funding for pathology and forensic services in the ongoing investigation into the Shakahola cult deaths in Kilifi.

Oduor, accompanied by Principal Secretary for Medical Services Harry Kimutai, appeared before the National Assembly Committee on Health to make the request. Oduor explained that the additional funds are needed for domestic travel, subsistence, costs of specialized materials and supplies, fuel, oil, lubricants, and other operational costs.

Since the probe began in April 2023, only KES 30 million has been allocated for allowances and operational expenses. Oduor emphasized that the requested funds are not solely for allowances but are also needed to purchase formalin and body bags required for the exhumation process.

PS Kimutai had previously appealed to the National Treasury to include the request in Supplementary Budget Two. However, despite appeals on February 15 and August 15, 2024, the request was not granted.

MPs questioned the timelines for the exhumation exercise to ensure the proper utilization of the funds within the specified period. Oduor responded that it is difficult to determine the duration of the exercise, especially after the recent discovery of a mass grave with an estimated 50 bodies by the Director of Criminal Investigation.

So far, 429 bodies have been exhumed, with DNA identification ongoing. The government chemist has positively identified 34 bodies through DNA, which were released to families last week. Initially, the DNA identification process was constrained by budget issues and a lack of facilities, but these challenges have since been resolved, and the process is now ongoing.

The victims were followers of cult leader Paul Mackenzie. Mackenzie and 95 other co-accused persons are facing multiple charges in the Mombasa and Malindi courts for the deaths of the 429 members.