With regard to his purported cult, Pastor Paul McKenzie has kept the world in a state of shock.
More than 100 bodies have so far been excavated from his 800-acre parcel of land in Shakahola, Malindi in Kilifi County, and more are likely buried there.
A portion of McKenzie’s followers are alleged to have been brainwashed into fasting to death in order to meet God.
But who is Pastor Paul Mackenzie?
Paul Mackenzie biography
Paul McKenzie was born in the 1970s in Kenya. He has not offered his exact date of birth, but he is in his 50s.
His personal information, such as his parent’s name and whereabouts, has not been revealed. However, he has a younger brother known as Robert McKenzie.
After completing his primary and high school education, he joined a local Bible college where he studied theology.
Paul Mackenzie tribe
Mackenzie is Luo.
Paul Mackenzie pastoral career
After his college graduation, pastor Paul McKenzie started working as a taxi driver in Malindi, Kenya’s coastal region.
Later, he started his ministry as a pastor at a local church.
He rose to prominence as a charismatic and dynamic speaker known for delivering people and his inspirational messages.
He started this church back in 2003 as a small evangelical centre alongside his wife Joyce Mwikamba.
They then moved to a village called Migingo in Malindi where he set up a church in a walled compound, where his family still lives to date.
His wife Joyce helped in preaching as a co-pastor and McKenzie claimed to have power to speak to God directly. In his sermons, he claimed to deliver words as given by God himself.
Around 2016, Mckenzie acquired a TV station after one of his followers Kennedy Mwacharo sold his property in Lamu at a throw away price of Ksh 20 million and handed over all the money to him, abandoning his family and responsibilities.
The man would die two months later in unclear circumstance.
Several cases of people selling their properties and giving McKenzie as they await to meet Jesus would then follow, the recent one being Betty, an air hostess who quit her 11 year job, left her husband and sold her lifelong investments at a throw away price of Ksh 7 million, heading with the money to McKenzie’s Shakaola church.
Betty is suspected to be among the dead bodies being retrieved in graves in Shakahola.
It is claimed that McKenzie used the money that Mwacharo gave him to buy pieces of land in Malindi and Mombasa , two vehicles and started the TV station.
Through his TV station, Mckenzie reached so many people and his teachings were basically on end times, evilness of western ways of life like medical services, education, food, sports, music etc.
Mackenzie dwelt on the uselessness of life and stressed on the afterlife. He preached about the second coming of Christ which according to him was so soon; his timeline of the second coming was always less than a year.
He also focused on the wrath that awaited those who would be alive by then.
In 2018 Dr Ezekiel Mutua through KFCB ordered for the immediate closure of the TV station, this was a year after Mckenzie and his wife had been arraigned in court for religious radicalisation, knowing and unlawfully promoting extreme belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologies to advance religious and social change.
It is unclear how this case ended and despite the orders to shut down the TV station, McKenzie continued with it something that showed how connected he might have been.
At one point, he threatened the then Kilifi Women Representative Aisha Jumwa when she questioned some of his teachings and why he kept sick people in his compound instead of taking them to the hospital.
In 2019, McKenzie would again hit headlines when four siblings from Mumias left home for his church and went missing, three of them would later resurface.
This, plus the pressure put on him to close unregistered school he operated in his compound prompted him to move from Migingo to Shakaola.
He closed the church, sold some his vehicles then bought the Shakaola land in the name of starting a farming venture.
People who went to see him at where his previous church used to be in Migingo were referred to his Shakaola farm and according to neighbours, a lot of people went there but few left.
McKenzie had fasting supervisors who would monitor the poor souls in the bush as they starved to death. These are also the same people who work as undertakers for him.
It is claimed that while leaving Migingo and closing his church, he sold the TV station and one of his vehicle to Pastor Ezekiel of New Life and even some of his evangelization tools.
Note that Pastor McKenzie is not living with his family in Shakaola, the family live in Migingo village in a gated compound where he had his church and he has been putting up another beautiful family home few distance from Malindi town.
Paul Mackenzie wife
Mackenzie is married to Joyce Mwikamba.
In the recent police arrest, his wife has been missing in action, unlike in 2017 when the duo was arrested together.
Paul Mackenzie’s previous criminal cases
Recently, the Judicial Service Commission pledged to re-visit all past cases against the Good News International pastor.
In its statement, the Judiciary also highlighted three criminal cases against Mackenzie; he was acquitted in one, the case withdrawn in the other and one is still pending.
The cases are as follows;
1. Case No. 1
In March 2017, Mackenzie, Winne Alexander Gandi and Betty Mwaka were jointly charged with the offence of offering Basic Education in an unregistered institution, contrary to the Basic Education Act.
The accused entered into a plea bargain with the Office of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) and were discharged by the trial court and ordered to be of good behaviour.
2. Case No. 2
In October 2017, Mackenzie was charged with four offences.
They were radicalisation, offering basic education in an unregistered institution, failing to take his child to compulsory primary and secondary education and failing to provide the right to education for a child.
Two days after taking a plea, he was granted cash bail of Ksh 100,00” and an alternative Bond of Ksh 500,00”.
He was asked to report to the OCS Malindi each week. He was acquitted on October 29, 2021.
3. Case No. 3
In April 2019, Mackenzie was charged yet again with three different charges.
He was accused of incitement to disobedience of the law, possessing and distributing films to the public which had not been examined and classified by Kenya Film Classification Board, operating a filming studio and producing films without a valid filming licence from Kenya Films Classification Board.
He pleaded not guilty.
The prosecution objected bail or bond but the Court declined the Application and granted him a cash bail of Ksh 500,000 and an alternative Bond of Ksh 1 million with one surety.
The matter is coming up for Defence Hearing on June 26, 2023.