Mom was mesmerized by Pastor Mackenzie’s TV program – man links mother, sisters’ disappearance to Shakahola cult

K24 Digital, Kenya/June 29, 2023

By Lucy Njogu

Stanley Ombuna narrates that losing his mother and two siblings started through an addiction towards a TV station that was sharing a special doctrine.

Speaking to a local media station, the 22-year-old says that all was well in their family before his mother developed a habit of listening to a pastor on the said television station and following his teachings.

After several days of being glued to the screen, Ombuna's mother told him to quit his studies.

He narrates that he found the sudden change of attitude and thinking of his mother very shocking, but he could attribute it to the teachings that she had been religiously following.

Ombuna failed to follow his mother's orders and that marked the beginning of their fallout.

Susan Awinja was at that point very deeply rooted in the said teachings, which the son reveals were by the renowned Paul Mackenzie from the Good News International Church, who is linked to the deaths of more than 300 people in a shocking religious cult in Shakahola, Kilifi County.

"She remained glued to the television channel whenever he was preaching. Soon after, she started behaving strangely. She even discouraged me from continuing with my education," the son narrated.

Fall out

Ombuna narrates how his defiance angered his mother.

"She was cold to me and we could no longer agree. Our relationship just changed and we completely drifted," Ombuna said.

Despite her son's defiance and the broken relationship, Awinja was focused on following Mackenzie's ministry.

Ombuna narrates that his mother later packed her bags and left for Ziwa la Kuruzi in Malindi with his two sisters who were at the time aged 12 and 4 years.

The young man's life would then become even more complex without a mother and with the determination of finishing his studies.

He was left with his brother and together they went to their aged grandmother's home in Nakuru, in an effort to survive and with the hope that their grandmother would afford to cater for their education.

Ombuna's struggle

Luck was not on his side as their grandmother had no means of educating him.

However, he managed to get a good samaritan who offered to educate him.

He explains that even with the struggles he was going through, he would put a lot of effort into his studies in an effort to brighten his future.

He shares a sad tale, where a conductor forced him to alight a vehicle since he didn't have transport money, while he was heading to school to sit for his Business Studies in his final secondary school exam.

"I boarded a vehicle from my area of residence, but the conductor said that I had developed a habit of not paying the fare, so he punished me by dropping me about 5 Kilometres from my institution," Ombuna said.

Desperate and anxious, Ombuna was forced to walk about five kilometres to school, but unfortunately arrived 20 minutes late for his exam.

Aiming to get a straight A grade (Distinction) on his Business Studies exam, Ombuna sat down and inked the answers, but he explains that he was too unsettled when he was doing the paper so he failed to hit his target.

However, fate still rewarded his efforts and he was able to join the university. He is now a degree holder but is still leaving a deplorable life working from different construction sites.

Missing mother

Ombuna narrates that he has not spoken to his mother since 2020.

He shares that he doesn't know the whereabouts of his mother and sisters.

"The last time they dialled me was three years ago. She later resorted to texting before the line went dead, Ombune painfully recalls the happenings.

He now says that he is ready to undergo a DNA test to find his mother and sisters, explaining that he is ready to accept whatever the outcome will be.

Pastor Mackenzie is accused of misleading his followers to fast to death with the hope of meeting Jesus. He has since been arrested and is in police custody pending prosecution.

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