June 16, 2024

Regulate Religious Activities, Clerics Urge

Tana River Senator Danson Mungatana with Bishop Amos Lewa (Left)) after the Shakahola committee sitting in Kilifi over the weekend. (Photo By Mwakwaya Rymond)

By Mwakwaya Raymond

Email, thecoastnewspaper@gmail.com

Some religious leaders want Kenyans to relook at rights which are enshrined in the 2010 Constitution arguing that they are prone to abuse.

Though the constitution gives every kenyan a right to worship a section of religious leaders are taking advantage and using the same law to engage in wanting spirituality.

Presenting their memorandum to the Mungatana led Senate Committee on Shakahola tragedy, the clerics say although worshipping is sacred both Christians and Muslims need to regulate their doctrines and activities not to compromise or infringe on their followers’ rights.

Pentecostal Church of Kilifi Bishop Amos Lewa wants the government to monitor what transpires in all worshipping places to check on extremism.

The bishop notes that a large number of clerics abuse freedom under the guise of exercising their constitutional rights.

“It’s true some of us abuse that freedom but what can we do to stop it,” he says warning thatin incidents of Shakahola magnitude may be on the offing countrywide.

In his view, a commission on religious missions could be ideal to monitor and regulate extremism in different religion divides.

Mr Francis Wanje Demonstrating how one of grandson pleaded for water befor passing on as his Mother celebrated his death (Photo By MwakwsyaRaymond)

Bishop Reuben Katite of Kilifi Anglican Church of Kenya wants government to ban ministries that do not fall under any umbrella.

“Most preachers have turned worshipping into business ventures where families mint money in unorthodox ways,” he says.

Sheikh Rashid Mahmoud called on the government to any registration of new religious groups so as to review the operating ones to get a clear picture and understand their exact activities before renewing their current licenses.

The Senate Committee received memorandums from a number of nongovernmental organisations and locals in a day long sitting at Kilifi County Children’s boardroom.

Mathias Shipeta, Haki Africa official, presented the whistleblower of the Shakahola tragedy, Francis Kahindi Wanje, whose narrative changed the mood of the senators.

His narration and horrific ordeal he underwent while in search of his daughter, Emily and three grandsons, left everyone stunned and shocked.

According to him he almost lost his life while leading a battery of journalists into the Shakahola forest in search of his loved ones when a gang of people armed with crude weapons pounced and started harassing them.

“After failing to get police assistance at Langobaya, I opted to indulge the media but there are thugs in the forest that cannot let you set in,” he tells the attentive committee members.

However, when the issue went viral through the media, he managed to secure one of his grandsons who has been helping the police to identify some of the shallow graves after witnessing several believers buried.

“My brother was so weak you could hardly hear what he said but longed for water to quench thirst. When I tried to give him some water, my mother kicked me from behind saying I could stop him from seeing his maker.”

His brother was among those buried while alive and other followers gathered to celebrate his demise.

Zedekiah Adika, Coast Region Civil Societies for human rights’ chair, asked the government to support the rescue team for the horrific exercise of exhuming the dead.

He suggested that the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights should be given powers to enable it perform its mandate appropriately.

He called for the sacking of all civil servants whose dockets were related to the tragedy saying what happened at Shakahola must serve as a lesson to others bent on exploiting people.

The chair claimed whenever the police arrested Pastor Paul Mackenzie they would get a phone call from directing them to drop the case.

The removal of senior police officers in the county was a wrong move as it denied transparency and accountability of what really happened.

“The uncalled for transfers of police officers was unwarranted and should not have happened because they only sparked more suspicions of hiding the truth.”

Danson Mungatana, the committee chair, assured Kenyans that all the views received by the members will be well documented to find a lasting solution when its 90 day mandate expires.

He was flanked by Sen Veronica Maina and nominated Sen Shakila Abdallah among others.

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