IN SHORT: Kenyan cult leader Paul Mackenzie has been in detention since April 2023. However, there is no evidence to support online claims that he is being persecuted for his association with opposition leader Raila Odinga.
The grim story of a Kenyan cult, many of whose followers starved to death in the coastal Shakahola forest, has shocked the world.
According to media reports, followers of the Good News International Church thought that they could “meet Jesus” in heaven by starving themselves.
The leader of the church, Paul Mackenzie, reportedly told his congregation that the world would end on 15 April 2023 but that by starving themselves, they would be the first to go to heaven.
He was arrested on 14 April and has been in custody ever since.
The exhumation of bodies from mass graves on his property continues. As of 14 May, 201 bodies had been exhumed.
In relation to this, a Facebook user posted an image of Mackenzie, with the claim that he had urged opposition leader Raila Odinga to intervene and save him. Mackenzie apparently claimed he was being politically persecuted because of his relationship with Ruto.
The caption reads: “Mackenzie believes in the true Living God, why is he openly calling on AZIMIO leader Raila Odinga to intervene and save him from what he terms as "political persecution" due to his relationship with him? To make matters worse, he said that while in court?”
In the image, Mackenzie appears to be wearing a T-shirt with the orange fruit logo of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM).
The ODM is one of the political parties in the Azimio la Umoja coalition, both led by Odinga.
This post has been published here, here, here, here, and here.
Africa Check has debunked several false claims about the Mackenzie cult. Is this more misinformation? We checked.
Ignore manipulated image, false narrative
A Google reverse image search of the image of Mackenzie revealed that it was manipulated.
In the original photo, Mackenzie is seen wearing a T-shirt with the branding of Times TV, a station with which he is associated.
This photo was taken by Wachira Mwangi during a Nation Africa interview with Mackenzie in the coastal county of Kilifi on 24 March.
There are no credible news reports of Mackenzie calling on Odinga to save him. If it had happened, it would have been widely reported, given such a story’s potential to become a political hot potato.
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