Kenyan police rescue 200 religious adherents from Kwale forest on suspicions of cultism
By Christian George
Not fewer than 200 people were rescued by police in a forest suspected to be kidnapped for religious activities.
The police have begun an investigation into the case of alleged involvement in extreme religious activities at a church called Rainbow Faith Ministries -Vumbu, a splinter group from the main SDA church in Vumbu.
The suspected religious kidnapping took place in Vumbu village in Msambweni, Kwale County.
According to a report by Kenya’s Nation.Africa, among those arrested is the leader of the church, 23-year-old Joyce Mkumbi, a suspected self-proclaimed prophetess.
A close source disclosed that among those arrested was a secondary school teacher who had quit his job to join religious activities and was staying in a forest.
According to a verified report by Kwale County Children’s Coordinator Zephaniah Apoko, the church asked its followers to leave their homes and stay at the centre in the forest to observe and strictly adhere to its teachings.
Their followers were mandated to pray three times a day and three times a night without missing a beat. Children were forced to miss school to attend the prayers.
The pastor of the church was said to be an uncertified preacher because he had no formal training, Mr Apoko said, adding that among those living in the makeshift centre were 50 children from different families.
He commended that the prophetess be charged for exposing children to extreme religious doctrine through her claims of messages from God.
However, a member of the church, Humprey Nyuma in defence, said that they were only worshipping God and had not prevented any children from going to school.
“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 Mr Nguma.
Meanwhile, Muslim For Human Rights Rapid Response Officer Francis Auma said police conducting investigations should ensure that they do not violate human rights even while investigations are ongoing.
“We demand that the security operation and the investigation of the church members be done within the confines of the law,” Auma said as visited the village.
The Kwale County Police Commander said they were still investigating the matter to come up with a conclusive report on the said church.