The bodies of 51 suspected cult members were exhumed from shallow graves in a forest in the country’s east, prompting Kenyan police to resume a graphic search there on Monday.
Police stated that the search for survivors of a movement whose pastor allegedly instructed followers to starve themselves in order to “meet Jesus” was also ongoing in the area inland from Malindi.
A full-scale investigation has been launched into the Good News International Church and its leader since police stormed the forest at Shakahola and discovered the first bodies last week.
Over the weekend, dozens more remains were uncovered and an 800-acre (325-hectare) tract of woods was declared a crime scene as investigators sought to comprehend the actual scale of the so-called “Shakahola Forest Massacre”.
Japhet Koome, the inspector general of police, is scheduled to go to the location on Monday where teams wearing overalls have been searching for additional burial pits and potential cult survivors.
There are worries that some members may be hiding from the law in the nearby forest and could perish if not swiftly located.
On the coast of the Indian Ocean at Malindi, several individuals have already been saved and taken to the hospital.
At least one of those who were rescued had refused to eat despite being in obvious physical pain, according to a rights group that alerted police to the movement and its harsh tactics.
112 persons had been reported missing to the Kenya Red Cross’ support workers in Malindi, according to the organization.
After two kids starved to death while in their parents’ care, the cult leader, Makenzie Nthenge, turned himself in to authorities and was charged last month, according to local media.
Since then, he has been freed on a bail of 700 dollars ($100,000 Kenyan shillings).
In a nation where rogue pastors and fringe movements have been involved in crime, the terrible case has captured the attention of the country, and the government has signaled the need for greater regulation of religious institutions.
Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki called the incident “the clearest abuse of the constitutionally guaranteed human right to freedom of worship” and said he planned to visit the location on Tuesday.
However, attempts to regulate religion in the overwhelmingly Christian nation have historically faced vehement opposition as attempts to erode constitutional protections for a separation of church and state.