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Mama Lucy Hospital CEO, 2 others in court over ‘baby stealing’ racket

Three people, among them the chief executive officer (CEO) of Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital Emma Mutio, administrative officer Regina Musembi and clinical social worker Makallah Fred Leparan were on Wednesday afternoon arraigned at Milimani following an investigative exposé by BBC Africa Eye on a syndicate trafficking and selling children in Kenya.

The shocking investigative piece was titled, “The baby Stealers” and attracted wide uproar in the country amid demands for action by state agencies.

The three who were presented before principal magistrate Benard Ochoi did not take plea to any charges as a probe by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) on the matter is ongoing.

The lead detective sought orders from the court to detain the suspects for at least 10 days to conclude their investigation.

During the submissions, the court was informed that, according to a footage from The BBC Africa Eye recorded through secret cameras, Leparan could clearly be seen negotiating the selling price of babies at the Mama Lucy hospital.

“The respondent is seen receiving a substantial sum of money after handing over three children to the journalist. The three Children were later found at Imani Rehabilitation Agency,” the detective said.

According to the BBC Africa Eye exposé, a gang of organised criminals have been stealing children from homeless mothers and selling them for as little as Sh45,000.

The arrests, according to Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai, came after police unearthed a child trafficking syndicate in Nairobi.

“During an operation by police to unearth the organised crime, police officers noted with a lot of concern that local public hospitals and children homes within Nairobi are involved. In the course of the investigations and operations, it is unfortunate that it was realised senior medical officers in collision with the child smugglers are highly involved,” the statement by the IG read in part.

He directed all county police commanders to closely work with local children’s officers and other local security agencies to immediately undertake investigations and operations on matters touching on child trafficking within their areas of jurisdiction, especially in local public and private hospitals and children’s homes.

Read: Govt launches probe on baby theft after BBC’s ‘The Baby Stealers’ exposé

Labour and Social Protection Minister Simon Chelugui also acknowledged that improvements to some of Kenya’s child protection services were needed.

His colleague in the Interior Ministry Fred Matiang’i thanked the BBC for exposing the “rot” at Mama Lucy hospital.

He added that human and drug trafficking were the biggest challenges Kenyan security was dealing with.

There are no reliable statistics on child trafficking in the East African state, but a non-governmental organisation, Missing Child Kenya, said it had been involved in nearly 600 cases in the past three years alone.