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

By Hilary Kimuyu November 18th, 2020 3 min read

The government has ordered an investigation into the theft and sale of babies following a BBC investigation into the black market trade in the city’s public hospitals.

The BBC Africa Eye documentary titled ‘The Baby Stealers’ which aired on Monday exposed an underground child trafficking ring with deep roots in Kenya.

Addressing a packed press conference and flanked by top police officials, Labour and Social Protection Minister Simon Chelugui said the sellers and buyers were equally culpable while promising a thorough investigation.

He said a multi-agency team had been established to probe the child trafficking syndicate and unearth the networks behind the black market business.

“Following this expose, a team of officers and experts from the relevant government agencies has been constituted to exhaustively investigate and take the necessary action. As the Government of Kenya, we do not condone child trafficking and we will do everything possible to get to the bottom of this issue,” said the CS.

Mr Chelugui urged members of the public to report any cases of child trafficking to Child Helpline 116, and the police.

“The Government of Kenya is committed to the safety and security of all children and would like to inform Kenyans that if for one reason or the other, they may not have children of their own, that there are legal procedures for adopting,” Chelugui added.

On Wednesday, Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai said police had arrested three medical officers who had been colluding with child smugglers.

The arrests, according to the IG, came after police unearthed a child trafficking syndicate in Nairobi.

“During an operation by police to unearth the organized 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 from 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.

The investigation by BBC Africa Eye uncovered a trade in children stolen from vulnerable mothers living on the street, as well as the existence of illegal clinics scattered around the city where babies are sold for as little as Sh45,000.

The BBC investigation also revealed corruption at Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital where one Fred Leparan, a clinical social worker at the hospital, reportedly facilitated the sale of an abandoned two-week-old baby boy to undercover reporters and later accepting Sh300,000 in cash.

Anita, a woman involved in the business, said her boss was a local businesswoman who buys stolen babies from petty criminals and sells them for a profit.

She said some of the customers were barren women while others used the babies for dark rituals.

“Yes, they are used for sacrifices. These children just disappear from the streets and they are never seen again,” Anita said.

Some of the methods Anita used to steal babies included drugging their mothers and feeding them with sleeping pills or glue.

In Nairobi, the going rate to steal a baby from a woman is about Sh50,000 for a girl and Sh80,000 for a boy.

According to BBC, both Mr Leparan and Mama Lucy Kibaki hospital declined requests to comment on the investigation’s findings.

Speaking at the press conference on Tuesday, Mr Chelugui also acknowledged that improvements to some of Kenya’s child protection services were needed to remedy the situation.