Kenya: Cult Leader Mackenzie Charged With Child Torture, Cruelty

Nairobi — Shakahola cult leader Paul Mackenzie and 38 co-accused persons have denied charges of child cruelty and infringement of children’s rights.

Mackenzie and fellow suspects, facing 16 counts, including child torture, allegedly committed the offenses on diverse dates between 2020 and 2023 in Shakahola Forest.

On Thursday, Mackenzie, who led the Good News International Church, and his co-accused denied all the offenses leveled against them when they appeared before the Tononoka Children’s Court.

Principal Magistrate Nelly Chepchirchir presided over the case.

On the count of child torture, Mackenzie and co-accused individuals were charged with slapping and beating 8-year-old and 14-year-old children with sticks on their legs, thereby causing them bodily harm on diverse dates.

Subjecting a child to torture is contrary to Section 25(3) of the Children Act, 2022, as read with Section 5(1) of the Prevention of Torture Act, No. 12 of 2017.

The charges also include infringing a Child’s Right to Education contrary to section 30 (1) (2) as read with section 30 (3) of the Basic Education Act, 2013.

The charge, in part, read, “Paul Nthenge Mackenzie, alias Mtumishi alias Nabii alias Papaa, on unknown dates in the year 2019 within Kilifi County, willfully and intentionally withdrew a child aged thirteen (13) years from Inavi Primary School and failed to ensure that the child attended school regularly as a pupil.”

On the charge of cruelty to a child, the court heard that all the accused individuals, on diverse dates between 2020 and 2023, at Shakahola Forest willfully and intentionally ill-treated a male child aged 17 years by denying him food, causing unnecessary suffering and injury to his health.

The case against Mackenzie and his co-accused will be mentioned on February 15, when the bond application will be heard.

On January 23, Mackenzie, together with his wife and 93 other co-accused, were charged with manslaughter in a Mombasa court.

They all pleaded not guilty to the 238 counts. Last week, Mackenzie and his associates were charged with terror-related offenses before a Shanzu Court, which they all denied.

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