64 out of the 65 individuals rescued from the Shakahola Forest in Kilifi County have now agreed to resume eating, after being suspected of attempting suicide. These individuals were followers of Paul Mackenzie, a controversial televangelist and cult leader. They had staged a hunger strike from June 6 to 10, leading to their appearance before the Shanzu Court on Monday, June 12. At the court hearing, they were accused of intentionally abstaining from meals in an effort to end their lives while being held at the Sajahanadi Rescue Centre in Mtwapa.
During the court proceedings, the suspects did not enter a plea. The prosecution, represented by Mr. Jami Yamina and Mr. J.V. Owiti, requested that the suspects be remanded in prison since the Rescue Centre was deemed unsuitable to hold them any longer.
After spending three nights at the Shimo la Tewa Maximum Prison, the suspects returned to court on Thursday. At this hearing, they agreed to cooperate with the authorities and adhere to the rules of the rescue centre. The court instructed all 65 individuals to publicly declare their cooperation with the police, counselors, and other state agents in an audible manner.
However, one of the victims named Feminies Mwoma declined to cooperate with the authorities and was subsequently remanded at the Shimo la Tewa Women’s Prison.
The Shanzu Magistrate Court ordered the 64 followers to be returned to a rescue centre. SPM Joe Omido also directed that both the men and women undergo a mental assessment. Additionally, the court ruled that a confidential psychiatric report for each victim should be submitted, with strict instructions that these reports should not be disclosed to the media unless explicitly authorized by the court.
The case will be mentioned in court on various dates between June 20 and 29 of this year.