Child swapping? Court orders DNA test after Mombasa woman handed dead child

Coast General hospital

A patient walks outside the Coast General Teaching and Referral Hospital in Mombasa County on March 7, 2023.

Photo credit: Winnie Atieno | Nation Media Group

When Ms Mercy Masambaga welcomed a bouncing baby boy on February 26, she had no idea that her happiness would be short-lived. 

She gave birth at Port Rietz District hospital in Mombasa. However, the hospital's medical staff discovered that the woman had delivered an underweight child, meaning the boy needed specialized medical care that was not available at Port Rietz hospital. 

The infant was on the same day transferred for further medical observation and care to the Coast General Teaching and Referral Hospital.

On March 1, Ms Masambaga was referred to the same hospital and when she requested to see the baby, she was informed that it was a girl, which she disputed. 

She pressed for more information and was eventually told that her baby had died and the body was preserved at the hospital's mortuary. 

Her husband, Mr Julius Kimeli, visited the mortuary the following day to confirm his concerns but denied that the dead baby was theirs. 

The couple was surprised by the sudden turn of events but insisted that the dead baby was not theirs. 

Having no other choice, the couple engaged the police, who have since taken charge of the matter to help establish the truth. 

The matter is now in court. 

Police Constable Moses Mwaniki of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) stated in an affidavit that he is looking into a case of child theft because of what happened after the baby was born. 

“The parents of the infants in this case have disputed the dead child presented to them at Coast General Teaching and Referral hospital,” he told Mombasa Principal Magistrate Vincent Adet. 

Mr Mwaniki requested a warrant so he could obtain samples for a DNA test from the couple and the disputed dead baby in an effort to ascertain the truth. 

The officer also requested authorisation from the court to deliver the dead baby’s DNA and that from either parent to the government chemist for examination. 

The magistrate allowed these orders, opening the door for DNA testing to ascertain the truth.