Woman arrested over baby theft at KNH pleads guilty

Wednesday February 28 2018

MAUREEN KAKAH
By MAUREEN KAKAH
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The woman arrested last week for allegedly stealing a three-week-old baby at Kenyatta National Hospital yesterday pleaded guilty to the offence.

However, it is not clear whether Ms Edinah Kemunto Mabuka was sure of what was happening in the courtroom at the time she pleaded guilty to the offence.

When the charge was read out to her, Ms Mabuka admitted to having stolen baby Prince Ouko on February 18 at Kenyatta National Hospital.

However, no sooner had she pleaded guilty to the offence, than another lawyer, Mr James Mwangi Njengo, requested to be allowed to represent the suspect free of charge.

“Your honour, it is my request to the court to have this matter mentioned on a later date so that I can be able to speak with her first,” said Mr Njengo.

Chief Magistrate Francis Andayi then asked the accused person whether she understood the consequences of pleading guilty.

JAIL

“Do you know that you stand to be jailed for at least seven years because you have pleaded guilty?” the magistrate asked.

It is then that Ms Mabuka told the court that she was unwell and needed medical attention.

The Chief Magistrate then directed that she remains remanded at Muthaiga Police Station until Friday as she gets medical attention before being presented in court for further directions in the matter.

According to Mr Njengo, whether the woman is guilty or not she must understand the nature of the charge she is facing and that in his view, she was clueless.

DISCOMFORT

“If you looked at her in court, it was clear that she was not understanding or was suffering from some discomfort, even when she pleaded guilty she did not seem to know what she was doing,” said Mr Njengo.

He added: “Justice demands that such a plea can be re-taken in the interest of justice if proved that she did not understand the nature of the charge which is a felony that is why I offered myself and the court readily agreed because it was also disturbed.”

Prosecution had told court that Ms Mabuna fraudulently took baby Prince from lawful care of his father Job Nyatete Ouko and intended to deprive him custody of the minor.

Before pleading guilty, the Chief Magistrate made efforts to engage her into a conversation in a bid to gauge her mindset but she quickly responded that she was ready to plead to the charge which she was facing.

And even when the Magistrate called upon lawyers in his courtroom to offer to represent her so that she could have an understanding of every step of the legal process for someone like her, the place was silent, no one stood up and the cameras were rolling.

The Magistrate called upon one female lawyer by her name and wondered why she could not take up the matter and represent the alleged ‘baby thief’.

However the court was told that she was the investigating officer in the case hence could not serve as a defence lawyer in the same trial.

The Chief Magistrate was at least certain that he had made an effort to help an accused person understand the legal process.

Ms Mabuka, who is also facing fresh allegations over another child theft from the same hospital in 2015, will plead to the charge afresh on March 2.

Investigators claim that the description of the suspect in the fresh allegations fit Ms Mabuka’s physical appearance.