A group of sixty-five followers of a Christian cult leader in Kenya are facing charges of attempted suicide after refusing to eat meals provided for them after their rescue.
The group were found in Shakahola forest in eastern Kilfi county where Pastor Paul Nthenge Mackenzie of the Good News International Ministries is said to have instructed his followers to starve in order to die and meet Jesus.
Appearing before the Shanzu Law Courts, the 65 were charged with attempting to end their own lives, which is illegal in Kenya under laws introduced during British colonial rule.
“On the diverse dates between 6th and 10th day of June 2023 at Sajahanadi Rescue Centre in Mtwapa Township within Kilifi County attempted to kill yourselves by absconding meals,” the court documents read.
Some local reports say the hunger strike is linked to their demands to be released.
Prosecutors have asked the court to remand the group in prison so that mental and medical assessments can be done and on the basis that the rescue centre can no longer hold them.
The court is expected to rule on the application on Thursday.
Ten more bodies were exhumed from the Shakahola forest on Monday, adding to the 270 bodies found so far in shallow graves.
According to autopsy reports, the majority of those recovered including children died of starvation, while others were strangled or beaten to death.
Pastor Mackenzie was arrested in April and has been in custody since then.