Woman gives birth in court shortly after acquittal in baby's murder case

Machakos woman gives birth in court moments after child murder acquittal

What you need to know:

  • Ms Mbinya went into labour shortly after she walked to her freedom from the courtroom.
  • After the delivery, police and court officials rushed mother and baby to Kithimani Dispensary.

A Machakos woman delivered a bouncing baby girl at Kithimani Law Courts shortly after a magistrate acquitted her of killing her son.

Virginia Mbinya, was staring at a long jail term after she was arrested in connection with the death of her 19-month-old son.

It was a bittersweet moment for the woman after a post-mortem examination linked the baby's death to starvation. 

Kithimani Principal Magistrate Paul Matanda ruled out foul play in the death of Travis Muuo when he set Ms Mbinya free on April 15. 

Shortly after Ms Mbinya walked to her freedom, there was commotion outside the courtroom as she went into labour. 

Business at the court came to a standstill as court officials and police officers attempted in vain to rush her to hospital. 

She delivered a bouncing baby girl right outside the courtroom after women set up a makeshift maternity station using lesos. 

After the delivery, police and court officials rushed the mother and her baby to Kithimani Dispensary.

Virginia Mbinya

Virginia Mbinya with her newborn baby during the interview with Nation at Kituluni Village in Machakos County on April, 17 2024.

Photo credit: Pius Maundu | Nation Media Group

They showered them with gifts which included warm clothing, toiletry and cash. The police escorted them home later that evening after the hospital discharged them.

When Nation visited Ms Mbinya at the sleepy Kituluni Village in Yatta sub-County, there was excitement as Mzee Julius Maingi's family welcomed its newest member.

“The baby is doing well,” Ms Mbinya told the Nation.

“I have named her Justice Mwikali. The women who played midwives at the court suggested I name the baby Peace. But I dropped the idea because my late son, Travis, was also called Muuo which means peace.

"I chose Justice because I had witnessed justice being served, and Mwikali in honour of Winnie Mwikali - one of the detectives who handled my case. She did not push me around. She was motherly,” she explained.

As she battled strong light to steal glances at her mother’s chin, Baby Mwikali had no idea she had a huge task ahead already cut out for her. 

She was born into a family whose unity had been tested by the death of her brother under unclear circumstances.

“I want my daughter to grow up to become a lawyer and ultimately the Chief Justice,” Ms Mbinya said. 

Virginia Mbinya

Virginia Mbinya with her newborn baby during the interview with Nation at Kituluni Village in Machakos County on April, 17 2024.

Photo credit: Pius Maundu | Nation Media Group

The Nation established that the death of Baby Travis aggravated an already bad situation in Mzee Maingi’s family. 

Ms Mbinya had been at the centre of squabbles that had rocked the family recently.

She was only one year old when her mother died in 2000. She had been at loggerheads with her stepmother.

“The older woman had consistently raised issues about her stepdaughter’s discipline. We hope that the newborn baby will draw them closer and strengthen the family bond,” an administrator involved in the case told the Nation on condition of anonymity.

“We thank God and the police officers at Matuu Police Station for taking care of my child. She went out alone and has now brought me a grandchild,” Ms Maingi told the Nation on Wednesday. 

Hidden under the veneer of excitement, Ms Mbinya battled mental anguish as she struggled to come to terms with the series of events that followed the death of her firstborn child on March 25, 2024.

She was arrested and locked up at Matuu Police Station after stumbling upon the lifeless body of the 19-month-old son in a thicket near the family's homestead after a night out in an incident that sent shockwaves beyond the region.

Mother and son had spent good times together the day before. Security agencies treated her as the main suspect after it emerged that she had left with the son, a day before she stumbled upon his lifeless body in a thicket.

Virginia Mbinya

Virginia Mbinya with her newborn baby during the interview with Nation at Kituluni Village in Machakos County on April, 17 2024.

Photo credit: Pius Maundu | Nation Media Group

Two days after the arrest, Kithimani Law Courts allowed the police to hold her for 14 more days to complete the investigation. 

“The 14 days in remand had a heavy toll on me,” Ms Mbinya said.

 “April 13 was the toughest of the 14 days. I cried the whole day when my parents and sisters passed by the police station to inform me that they had proceeded to bury my child. I did not imagine that I would not be available to bid him farewell. It was very tough on me,” she recounted. 

But then came the good news when detectives revealed that the post-mortem examination had ruled out poisoning as the cause of the baby's death.

“I was worried the post-mortem examination would have pointed to poisoning. Although I was consoled by the fact that I was not the one who had prepared the food that I gave him the day before his death, I felt it would have taken me a long time to convince authorities. That gave me sleepless nights,” Ms Mbinya said. 

Ms Maingi said the court ruling was a relief to his family.

Two neighbours, however, poked holes in the post-mortem report, saying starvation is a thing of the past in the region which is celebrated as food secure after a local pastor teamed up with the government to promote rainwater harvesting using farm ponds. 

A spot check by Nation showed that many of the homesteads in the area cultivated food and cash crops all year round, thanks to the water harvesting campaign.

However, Ms Maingi appealed for financial assistance to raise his newly born grandchild, saying the mother was not gainfully employed.

She also said the family was cash-strapped because Mzee Maingi was fighting high blood pressure and had recovered from a stroke. 

As members of Mzee Maingi’s family clung to the hope that Baby Mwikali would strengthen the family bond, the mystery of how Baby Travis met his death remains.