A social worker who was exposed by the BBC Africa allegedly negotiating with an undercover journalist in what seemed a well-planned plot to sell a child who was abandoned at Mama Lucy Hospital has been arraigned in Nairobi.
Makallah Fred Leparan was brought to court on Wednesday, November 18, 2020, alongside Mama Lucy Hospital’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Emma Mutio and Administrator, Dr. Regina Musembi.
The three, however, were not charged as the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) sought 10 days to detain them for further investigations.
The investigating officer, Wanga Masaki, told Nairobi Senior Principal Magistrate Bernard Ochoi that the two doctors were arrested following information obtained from Leparan as to their involvement in the crime.
“They are believed to have aided Leparan in the commission of the said crime,” Masaki told the court.
The court heard that in the BBC expose, Leparan was seen negotiating with an undercover journalist in a well-planned plot to sell a child who had been abandoned at the hospital.
“The respondent is seen receiving a substantial sum of money after handing over three abandoned children to the journalist. The three children were later found at Imani Rehabilitation Agency,” he told the court.
According to the DCI, they have reasons to believe that there is a well-organized gang operating within the country whose other players are yet to be established.
“The respondents hold crucial information and have the potential of interfering with the investigation if released on bond… Their fixed places of abode are not known to DCI and, therefore, they are potential flight risk if released before the investigations are completed,” stated Masaki.
The three suspects through their lawyer, Danstan Omari, opposed the detention saying Mutio is the CEO of Mama Lucy, having joined the facility from Mbagathi Hospital 10 days ago.
“She is an accomplished doctor and is well known, she cannot be a flight risk,” Omari told the court.
According to the lawyer, no evidence has been tabled before the court to show that if the suspects are released on bail, they will interfere with witnesses.
“The state says they have recovered children at Imani’s Children Home and need to conduct DNA testing. It’s a scientific process outside the control of these suspects, the labs are independent and can’t interfere with the DNA testing,” he argued.
According to Omari, the matter is not complex and has only attracted foreign interest after being framed as an issue of huge public interest.
Magistrate Ochoi will rule whether to detain the suspects on Thursday, November 18.
In the meantime, the three will be remanded at Kileleshwa Police Station.