Pastor Paul Mackenzie Nthenge was arrested in Kenya; he is suspected of involvement in the deaths of at least 73 people. (Photo: reproduction)

Accused of leading 73 followers to starve to death in eastern Kenya to “find Jesus Christ”, Paul Mackenzie Nthenge is a taxi driver who became a “pastor” in 2003. His extreme preaching has landed him in prison twice since 2017

Moment of removal of bodies by police officers in Kenya. (Photo: reproduction)

In a police report on April 14, Makenzie was named as the leader of the “church” that received several complaints about “citizens starving to death on the pretext of knowing Jesus after being brainwashed.” In the evening of the same day, after learning that he was being sought by the local police, Paul surrendered to the authorities.

The suspect had created, in 2003, the “International Church of the Good News” and had more than 3,000 followers, a thousand of them in the coastal city of Malindi alone, where he had settled.

In his preaching, Mackenzie broadcast a program entitled “Message of the Last Times” that preached “teachings, preaching and prophecies about the end times, commonly called eschatology”. He claimed to “carry the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ free from the deceit and intellect of man”.

Paul’s church also has a YouTube channel where videos of their services in Malindi can be found. Mackenzie told followers of his that everyday practices like wearing wigs and conducting digital transactions without cash were the stuff of the “devil”.

Paul was arrested for the first time this year for “radicalisation”, after he promoted the non-schooling of children, claiming that education was not recognized by the Bible.

In an interview, he claimed to have created his church two years later to settle in the forested village of Shakahola, where the bodies of his followers were also found by the police. “I had the revelation that the time had come to stop. I only pray with myself and with those who chose to believe”, said the religious leader to The Nation newspaper, on March 25.

Just days before the interview, Mackenzie had been arrested “after being linked to the deaths of two children who were allegedly starved to death on the instructions of this criminal,” said Japhet Koome, Kenya’s police chief. At the time, he would have suggested that his followers fast to death to find their creator. In the episode in question, Paul was released after posting bail of 100,000 Kenyan shillings.

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