Trio arraigned over child theft

Trafficking cartel said to include medics and women who act as surrogate mothers

Detectives in Mombasa say they have unearthed a network of local and foreign cartels believed to be using surrogate mothers to operate a child-trafficking syndicate.

Mombasa DCIO Jacob Kanake said detectives arrested three suspects including a Kenyan woman identified as Josephine Muthoni, Dr Mahesh Chudasama, a doctor at Mombasa Hospital and a Singaporean, Neo Kian, who he said are at the heart of the multinational trafficking of infants.

“We received information that an African woman had given birth at a Mombasa hospital and the baby had been given to a Chinese man behind her back,” said Kanake.

But documents presented at the court revealed the Kenyan woman was a surrogate mother to the child.

According to the documents signed by Muthoni, the woman had an agreement made before a lawyer that she would “rent her womb and be paid, Sh30,000 per month for the gestation period with a final sum of Sh500,000 after documentation of the child and the release of the minor through a court procedure to the intended parents.

The 12-day-old baby had already been handed over to  Kian, the Singapore national by Dr Mahesh who is alleged to have initiated the process.

During investigations, it emerged that the minor was the tenth child who was born through a similar process at the facility thereby raising eyebrows.

“Dr Chudasama had managed to obtain a birth certificate number 0141750 dated July 25, 2018 showing the name of the minor as Neo Yu Jie while the mother had been listed as Josephine Muthoni and father as Neo Kian,” read part of the court documents.

The suspects who appeared before Mombasa principal magistrate Henry Nyakweba, however, denied charges of promoting child trafficking contrary to section 4(1) C as read with Section 2 and 3 of the counter trafficking in persons Act no 8 of 2010 Laws of Kenya.

The charges read that on diverse dates of July 16 and 28 this year, at Mombasa hospital in Mvita sub-county within Mombasa county, Dr Chudasama and Muthoni jointly and unlawfully offered to Kian for guardship to facilitate the child to be removed from Kenya to Singapore.

Kian was separately charged with unlawfully adopting a child with the intent of removing him from Kenya to Singapore.

The trio were released on a bond of Sh1 million each with one similar surety, with an alternative of Sh100,000 cash bail.

The baby has since been moved to a life rescue centre.

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