Kenya has sworn in two teams to investigate religious leaders and advocates of religious extremism following the Shakahola massacre. The teams include a Commission of Inquiry to unravel the circumstances that led to the massacre and another to identify gaps and propose legal and governance changes to prevent religious extremism.
The task force is expected to come up with proposals on standards and minimum certification requirements for all religious organisations and their leaders to be registered and allowed to operate. The teams will investigate cult leaders, advocates of religious extremism, fake prophets, and other unscrupulous religious leaders, BNN reports.
The 14-member task force is headed by former Gachoka MP and former National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) General Secretary Mutava Musyimi. The Commission of Inquiry into the Shakahola Tragedy, headed by Court of Appeal Judge Jessie Lesiit, will investigate the deaths, torture, inhuman and degrading treatment of members and individuals associated with the Good News International Church in Malindi, Kilifi County, led by Pastor Paul Mackenzie.
The “Shakahola massacre” has been described as one of the worst tragedies in Kenyan history, in which it is estimated that over 133 people perished, some from starvation and others from asphyxiation, believing they would be meeting Jesus based on the preaching of a cleric, Pastor Paul Mackenzie.
The Taskforce on the Review of the Legal and Regulatory Framework Governing Religious Organisations is expected to identify gaps in the legal, institutional, and governance systems that have allowed cults and extremist groups to operate, and make proposals on how the public can report such cases.
The team will propose legal and governance changes to prevent religious extremism and ensure that religious organizations and their leaders are registered and operate under specific standards and minimum certification requirements. This move is aimed at restoring public trust in religious organizations and leaders and ensuring that they act in accordance with their spiritual and social responsibilities.
Commission of Inquiry into the Shakahola Tragedy
The Commission of Inquiry into the Shakahola Tragedy will investigate the events that led to the massacre at the Good News International Church in Malindi, Kilifi County, and the conduct of Pastor Paul Mackenzie, who led the church.
The commission will look into the deaths, torture, inhuman, and degrading treatment of members and individuals associated with the church. It will also investigate the role of the church leadership in the tragedy and recommend measures to prevent such incidents in the future.
The formation of these teams is a positive step towards curbing religious extremism and ensuring that religious leaders and organizations act in accordance with the law and their responsibilities. It is a clear signal that the government is committed to protecting its citizens from unscrupulous religious leaders and groups.