Self-styled evangelical preacher Gilbert Juma Deya has a case to answer in the child-trafficking and “miracle babies” scandal, a Nairobi court ruled yesterday.
Senior Principal Magistrate Robison Ondieki said prosecutors had proved they have a strong case against Mr Deya in the criminal trial that involves allegations that he had stolen five children two decades ago.
Magistrate Ondieki said he was “satisfied that a ‘prima facie’ case has been established against the accused person. I therefore put him on his defence".
Mr Deya’s lawyer said Mr Deya will provide sworn evidence and call witnesses. The hearing of the defence case will start on October 4.
Magistrate Ondieki found Mr Deya with a case to answer in five counts of stealing five children, all aged under 14, between 2002 and 2004, in Mountain View estate in Nairobi.
The ruling comes 11 years after a Kibera court convicted his wife, Mary Deya, to three years for stealing a baby on September 10, 2005 at Kenyatta National Hospital and giving false information to Dr James Kiarie that she had given birth to the child.
Mr Deya, who claimed he created miraculous pregnancies, faces five counts of child stealing. His trial started on August 4, 2017 after he was extradited from the United Kingdom.
Mr Deya allegedly committed the offence with others at Mr Deya’s house, number 226, in Mountain View between May 20, 2002 and August 19, 2004. He denies the accusations.
Prosecutors Nicholas Mutuku and Hellen Mutellah said they had demonstrated that the children were found at the house.
The court heard that the house was jointly owned by Mr Deya and Ms Deya and that the two lived together there as a couple.
They also said birth registration documents for the five children produced in court showed Mr Deya as the father of the children.
“The birth registration of these five children were obtained fraudulently,” prosecutors said in written documents, adding that the couple were excluded in DNA tests as the biological parents of the children.
Mr Lilian Kiamba, a police investigator with the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), and a births and deaths registration officer in Nairobi were among prosecution witnesses who testified in the case.
Investigations into the case began following a report in a Kenyan newspaper about a mature couple who claimed that they had delivered miracle babies following prayers by Mr Deya and his wife. The preacher operated Gilbert Deya Ministries.
"The investigations led the team to a house within Komarock Estate, Nairobi, where they traced the couple and 11 children aged below five years,” Ms Kiamba testified.
“The couple and the said children were detained by the police and blood samples of the children and the couple were thereafter extracted and forwarded to the Government Chemist for DNA analysis"
The couple (names withheld for legal reasons) said the children were born at Lucy’s Medical Clinic, Huruma Ngomongo Clinic and Gatecha Clinic in Dandora.
Investigators then went to the house in Mountain View that belonged to the Deyas.
At the house, the officers found Ms Deya, Ms Miriam Nyeko (a Ugandan) and Rose Kiserem. They were all interviewed and detained.
"Mary Deya was interviewed but denied there were any miracle babies in the house. She took [investigators] to a room where the team found one child and a lady who introduced herself as Miriam Nyeko, a Ugandan. However, upon search, the team found nine children aged five years and below locked inside one of the rooms,” Ms Kiamba told the court.
She also said Ms Mary gave investigators 14 birth certificates for the children. The certificates showed that Mr Deya was the father of the children.
The birth certificates were confiscated and the 10 children taken to the Kabete Children’s Home in Nairobi. Their blood samples were taken by Dr Moses Njue Gachoka and forwarded to the Government Chemist for DNA analysis.
Two of them were found to be the Deyas’ biological children, the court heard.
An April 14, 2005 DNA report concluded that the couple were excluded as the biological parents of five of the children.
"It is thus clear that the accused person was not the biological father of the five children [that are] the subject matter of this case,” Ms Kiamba said.
“Therefore, the accused person having harboured these children in his house he had intended to deprive their parents, guardians or lawful care or charge of the same."
As for the other three children, Ms Kiamba said a woman in the Deyas’ house had claimed to be their mother. But further investigations revealed that she was not their mother and she became the subject of a separate inquiry.
Regarding the birth certificates of the five children in the charge sheet, the court heard that they were issued by three unlicensed medical facilities in Nairobi – New Gathecha Estate Nursing & Maternity Home, Ochieng Grace Medical Clinic Maternity, Mimilu Maternity Home and Bungoma.
Irene Friendrike Baumgartner, who was a staffer at the Kabete Children's Home and testified in the case, said the children were troubled that they did not know their biological parents.
The children had asked about their roots, she said and “they have been deprived of their rightful parents and the biggest challenge is the trauma and the psychological question of where their parents are".