A family in Tharaka Nithi County heaved a sigh of relief Saturday after two children who went missing on Wednesday were found in Kirinyaga County.
The two, aged seven and three years, disappeared from their home in Kibumbu Estate, Chuka town, in the company of an 11-year-old girl who had sought refuge in their house claiming to have been lost.
Police are investigating possible links to a child trafficking syndicate after they caught the girl, who had told the family she was in Grade Five, with the two children in Mwea.
The children had been taken to Mwea Police Station by boda-boda operators who had found them out at night. The 11-year-old girl had reportedly told one of the boda-boda operators they were on their way to Nairobi to visit their stepmother, but a matatu they had boarded from Chuka had dumped them in Mwea well into the curfew hours.
“We are holding the girl as we interrogate her to establish where she comes from and where she was taking the other children,” said Meru South Sub-County Police Commander David Ngondi.
Mr Ngondi said they also wanted to know whether the girl has ever been involved in such an incident before and how she arrived in Chuka town.
Search for family
The Grade Five girl walked into Ms Doreen Kawira’s home at around 8pm on Friday, November 13, and claimed she was from Kianjai in Meru County. She further said she had come to Chuka town to visit her auntie, Ms Pamela Kathure, but she could not trace her house.
Ms Kawira called the area chief, Mr Gitonga Kagere, and explained the matter. The chief asked her to accommodate the girl as they looked for her aunt.
“I explained the matter to the chief and he said he would look for the girl’s auntie the following day,” said Ms Kawira.
At around 10pm, the girl was given food and water to bathe before being allowed to sleep with Ms Kawira’s seven-year-old daughter.
After failing to locate the girl’s aunt, the chief called on Tuesday and informed Ms Kawira the girl would be taken back to Kianjai the following day.
Then on Wednesday morning, Ms Kawira and other family members went to work, leaving the girl with her seven-year-old daughter and a three-year-old granddaughter.
The girl is said to have bathed and dressed the two children in clean clothes and they left at around 10am with Sh1,000 she stole from the house.
When Ms Kawira and the other family members came back home at around 4 pm, the girl and their children were nowhere to be found. They searched for them the whole night in vain.
On Thursday, they reported the matter to Chuka Police Station. The following day, Ms Kawira received a call from a teacher at Kibumbu Primary School in Chuka informing her that there were reports of some children at Mwea Police Station.
A police officer at Mwea Police Station who hails from Chuka had called a teacher at Kibumbu Primary School.
This was after Kawira’s daughter said she is a pupil at the school, even as the girl who had initially said she was from Meru changed her story and now claimed they had come from Embu.
The children spent two days under the care of the children’s department.
The the family expressed concerns that there could be a child trafficking ring in Chuka town and asked the police to investigate.
Ms Elizabeth Mukami, the mother of the three-year-old child, said they were lucky the matatu had dropped the children in Mwea and not in Nairobi.