News by email Donate


Top Stories

Most Read

Popular Videos

KENYA killings banner.JPG
KENYA killings.JPG
World News

Kenyan suspect in Christian cult deaths dies in custody after hunger strike

by Reuters Journalist

A Kenyan accused of involvement in the deaths of hundreds of members of a starvation cult has died after a 10-day hunger strike in police custody, a prosecutor said on Wednesday.

Joseph Buyuka was among 30 people, including self-styled pastor Paul Mackenzie of Good News International Church, in custody over the deaths of 337 followers of the church.

"The police believe that these individuals... played significant roles in the offences leading to the deaths and illegal disposal of bodies in Shakahola (forest)," court papers said of Buyuka and four others arrested with him. 

Authorities have exhumed most of the bodies from the forest in southeast Kenya since April.

Jami Yamina, senior prosecution counsel, said Buyuka had died two days ago at a hospital in Malindi, about 116 km (72 miles) from the port city of Mombasa where he had been taken from a nearby prison.

"He died ...(due to) ... complications from hunger strike and starvation, but we will await postmortem report," Yamina told a court in Mombasa.

"Two other suspects ... have also been taken ill. Police believe it is related to their hunger strike."

Mackenzie is accused of ordering his followers to starve their children and themselves to death so they could reach heaven before the end of the world. 

He handed himself over to police in April and was denied bail last month. The other suspects were arrested later after authorities started the exhumations.

He and the others have not yet been required to enter a plea.

Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki had expressed concern in May that some of Mackenzie's rescued followers were refusing food. One of them had died, he said at the time.

A Monthly Gift Of $11 Makes A World Of Difference

In a world of fake news there’s never been a greater need for quality Christian journalism. Premier’s mission is to provide the Church with the most up to date and relevant news, told from a Christian perspective. But we can’t do it without you.

Unlike many websites we haven't put up a paywall — we want to keep our journalism free at the point of need and as open as we can. Premier’s news output takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. No one in the USA is sharing news like we are across radio, magazines and online so please help us to continue that today.

For a monthly gift of $11 or more we’d also be able to send you a free copy of the brand new Premier Bible, a wonderful Anglicised version of the NLT packed with exclusive bonus content, reading plan and resources to help you get the most out of scripture.

Your monthly support will make a world of difference. Thank you.

Support Us
Continue the conversation on our Facebook page

Related Articles

Sign up to our newsletter to stay informed with news from a Christian perspective.

News by email