Controversial Shakahola cult leader Paul Mackenzie faced the gavel in a Malindi Court, where he was sentenced to 12 months behind bars for operating a filming studio without a valid license.

The court further handed down a six-month jail term for Mackenzie's possession and exhibition of films through Times TV without the necessary operating license.

Notably, both sentences will run concurrently.

Currently detained at Shimo la Tewa Prison for unrelated charges, including the disturbing death of over 429 people at Shakahola, Mackenzie found himself at the centre of legal scrutiny.

The verdict, delivered by Malindi Senior Resident Magistrate Olga Onalo last month, marked a decisive outcome to a case that has stirred public concern.

The Probation Office, considering Mackenzie's criminal history, recommended against an alternative fine. Mackenzie had previously faced similar charges in criminal case no. 182 of 2017, resulting in a conviction and fine.

"In respect to count two, I hereby sentence the accused person to twelve months imprisonment, while in respect to count three, I sentence the accused to six months imprisonment," declared Magistrate Onalo.

The accused was granted a 14-day window for a potential appeal.

The Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) disclosed that Mackenzie's illicit activities first came to light in 2019, following alerts from the Kilifi County Commissioner and other security agencies.

The public outcry prompted an investigation, revealing confiscated media with prevalent themes of propaganda, misrepresentation of facts, vulgar language, obscenity, and derogatory portrayals of religious and societal practices.

Expressing concern about the potential harm Mackenzie poses to the public, KFCB stated, "The thematic areas in the content classified by the board as part of the evidence presented in court portrayed the callous nature of the offender, lack of concern for the well-being of his audience, and a general disrespect for other members of society in their various religious and societal factions."

Despite Mackenzie's severe charges, his lawyer, James Mouko, advocated for a non-custodial sentence, a plea that the court did not entertain.

As the controversial cult leader serves his sentence, questions persist about the broader impact of his unscrupulous activities on the unsuspecting public and the need for stringent media regulation in Kenya.