Twenty-one bodies have so far been found on land owned by a pastor on the Kenyan coast who was arrested for telling his followers to fast to death.

Malindi sub-county police chief John Kemboi said no more shallow graves have yet been dug on land belonging to pastor Paul Makenzi, who was arrested on April 14 for links to the cult.

Four other people died after they and others were discovered starving at Good News International Church.

Police have asked a court to allow them to hold Makenzi longer while investigations into the deaths of his followers continue.

A tip from members of the public led police to raid the pastor’s property in Malindi, where they found 15 emaciated people, including four who later died. Followers said they were hungry for the pastor’s instructions to meet Jesus.

Police had been told there were dozens of shallow graves scattered around Makenzi’s farm and that digging began on Friday.

Makenzi has been on a hunger strike for the past four days while in police custody.

The pastor has been detained twice before, in 2019 and in March of this year, in connection with the deaths of children. Each time, he was released on bail, and both cases continue in court.

Local politicians have urged the court not to release him this time, denouncing the spread of cults in the Malindi area.

Cults are common in Kenya, which has a largely religious society.