Police have today morning rescued at least 200 people who were involved in extreme religious activities at a forest in Kwale. Among those arrested is the leader of a splinter SDA church, Joyce Mkumbi who claims to be a prophet.
According to Kwale County Children’s Coordinator Zephaniah Apoko, Mkumbi had asked her followers at Faith Ministries to leave their homes and live in the forest where she demanded that they strictly adhere to her teachings.
The followers were required to pray six times every 24 hours; three times during the day and thrice at night. Children were also forced to miss school to attend the prayers. Among those rescued from the forest are 50 children from different families.
But in their defence, followers of the church have said that they were only worshipping God and had not prevented any children from going to school. Additionally, they say that they were forced to hide in the forest following harassment by the police.
“This is a good church. I also came from Nairobi and it is in a peaceful environment. I don’t know why the authorities are targeting us. But this is a sign of the end times as our preacher told us,” said one of the congregants.
Today’s rescue comes less than a week after police rescued another 31 people from a suspected cult church in Nakuru. The 31 people, including 17 children as young as two years were rescued while confined to fasting in a house in Kamwene B Village, Njoro Sub-County on April 27.
According to a police report, a parent from Uasin Gishu County reported that her daughter had been confined in a house in Kamwene ‘B’ village.
“The police led by the OCS of Ndeffo police station visited the scene at Kamwene ‘B’ village in Njoro sub-county in Nakuru County and established that she had secured a job of Community Health Nursing at Nigeria GK dispensary,” the statement read.
Police said the job was meant for her 35-year-old daughter who is a mother of four children.
According to the report, the woman was supposed to report on April 26, 2023, but refused and traveled with her husband to Kamwene ‘B’ village.
Police found them confined in one house which belongs to a woman who is suspected to be running an unregistered and suspected cultic church known as ‘Army Rurwama’.
All were rescued and taken to Njoro Police Station for further investigation. The 31 are said to have been subjected to praying and fasting.
The 31 were rescued amid a probe into the death of more than 100 people in Shakahola forest, Kilifi County.
Police have so far detained Pastors Ezekiel Odero and Paul Mackenzie who are accused of indoctrination of their followers, leading to the deaths.