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Shakahola: Paul Mackenzie to Remain in Custody

The primary suspect in the Shakahola cult, Paul Mackenzie, along with his 28 co-suspects, will stay in detention until December 22, 2023.


The court is expected to make a decision about the state’s request to extend their incarceration for an additional 180 days as they await prosecution. Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Jami Yamina contended in the petition that, given the respondents’ risk of suicide, detention is the least restrictive option while charges and investigations are being handled.

Bodies exhumed from Shakahola believed to be Pastor Paul Mackenzie’s followers. Photo: COURTESY

She listed a number of strong reasons for detention pending the conclusion of the investigations.

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In addition, Jami disagreed with the recommendations made in the social inquiry reports by the Probation and Aftercare Services department regarding the release of six of the 29 Shakahola suspects. Senior Principal Magistrate Yusuf Shikanda was informed that the suspects must go through deradicalization in order to be reintegrated into society and that their relatives have not offered any justification for why the six won’t hurt themselves.

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Pastor Paul Mackenzie is accused of forcing the followers of his church to starve to death claiming that it was the will of God. More than 400 bodies were exhumed in the forest and determined to have been followers of the controversial cult many of whom had died from starvation.


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