20 September 2018

Kenya: Mike Sonko Claims Child Trafficking at Pumwani Hospital

Photo: The Nation
Pumwani Hospital

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko has introduced a new twist to the raging debate on the rot at Pumwani Hospital, suggesting that the 12 bodies he found hidden in boxes and polythene bags were part of a child-trafficking racket.

"The only reason why the bodies were stored was because they are used as an excuse to sale babies," he said in an interview with Citizen TV on Wednesday evening.

SENATORS

"The bodies have not been stored for nothing. They are stored because it is an excuse they need in order to sale babies," he went on, vowing not to forgive the individuals involved should the ongoing investigations reveal them.

He added: "Women routinely give birth but they are misled into believing that their children died at birth. They are then shown the dead bodies while their children are sold to child traffickers."

His claims echoed the sentiments expressed by senators when they debated the issue on Tuesday.

In a debate triggered by Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja, Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen said he suspected child trafficking at the referral hospital.

"This could be the case of child traffickers... that is why they were kept for long without burial or being taken to a morgue because they are used as an excuse to allow those involved in child trafficking to plan their deeds," Mr Murkomen told the House.

"This is a slavery of untold magnitude. High level cartels are involved in this business and the committee should be bold and get to the bottom of the matter."

The House demanded thorough investigations into the matter and audit of the situation in hospitals across Kenya to save the healthcare system from paralysis.

"The county government should explain its budgetary allocation to the hospital and whether such allocations can facilitate seamless day-to-day operations of the facility," Mr Sakaja said.

SMS

He said there is need for the matter to be investigated by a joint Health and Security committees of the Senate and the National Assembly, expressing fear that child traffickers may be running riot at Pumwani.

Speaker Ken Lusaka gave the two committees the go ahead to look into the matter.

The committee on Health will look into the day-to-day operations at the hospital while the one on security will focus on the security around the facility.

During the Wednesday night interview, Mr Sonko dismissed accusations that his decision to storm the hospital on Monday was part of his political theatrics.

He hailed his leadership style as the panacea to entrenched cartels in the capital, vowing never to relent until all the corrupt elements are kicked out of town.

The governor said he stormed Pumwani after he received a distress SMS from an unnamed Nairobian over the suffering of expectant women.

"It was not a PR stunt, nor was it a political game. It was about human life," he said.

The governor used the show to explain himself on a day he was assailed of having engineered the problem at the facility for political reasons.

SUSPENSIONS

Asked why he opted to use such a stunt to storm the hospital, an unrepentant Mr Sonko insisted that it is his leadership style.

"That's my style of leadership and that is me. Mr [Evans] Kidero tried with his corporate style and failed. I will be ruthless until all cartels are pushed out of town. Let Nairobians understand this is my style and I am not about to change," he said.

Mr Sonko said he suspended senior county officials after they openly contradicted him during a visit to the hospital on Tuesday.

Those suspended were County Secretary Peter Kariuki, Health CEC Veska Kangogo, Health Chief Officer Mahat Jimale and County Attorney Lydia Kwamboka.

He confirmed he had suspended them for insubordination after they contradicted a resolution of the Cabinet which met on Monday after the discovery.

"I was angered because a crisis Cabinet meeting had issued a resolution on the incident and I hoped they were all bound by collective responsibility but instead they went there to contradict me," he said.

He announced that the three doctors and the administrator of the hospital suspended will not resume their work until DCI complete their investigations.

Mr Sonko also talked about his famous recording of Kiambu Governor Ferdinand waititu, the decision to run Nairobi from his rural home in Machakos County and the ongoing war on corruption and demolitions of buildings on riparian land.

"I will not come back to Nairobi because Machakos is just near. I can commute every day," he said, dismissing claims that he has deserted the capital as a "non-issue".

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