It will cost one as little as KSh50,000 to buy a child from unscrupulous cartels that steal them from neighbourhoods, schools and hospitals around the country.
Kurunzi can reveal, after collecting information from sources privy to the goings-on in the illegal trade in the country, that apart from children being trafficked abroad against a Cabinet directive banning adoption by foreigners.
A network of individuals and institutions, mostly children’s homes, go about selling children for as little as KSh50,000 but the price would be higher depending on who is interested in having a child.
The cartels target couples unable to give birth for a reason or another and single women, who wish to have children as well as individuals seeking to have children without going through the normal process of child birth.
One woman, named Jackline, told Kurunzi how a member of this cartel approached her offering to sell her a boy child at KSh100,000 but she did not proceed beyond the initial contact after she was told how the child would be procured.
“We had just gone out for a chama meeting and I shared my desire to have a child without having one through the normal way,” Jackline, who has a daughter approaching teenage.
“You know the way we women share our desires especially during those meetings. So one of the members told me she knew how I would adopt a child without the rigours of the adoption process.”
Jackline was then introduced to “this lady based in Kayole” and they had initial contact when she was told to get the cash ready and will be given her child in two weeks’ time.
“I got scared the moment she told me not to bother about any paper work,” she reveals to Kurunzi.
“So I went back to the friend how introduced me and asked what going on because at this point I suspected the worst – that I was going to be sold a child stolen from someone.”
Jackline later learnt that the lady is part of the network that is on brief from certain children’s homes to steal children from neighbourhoods, schools and hospitals.
They take advantage of couples and individuals desperate to have children and who are not aware of the adoption processes to sell them children but their main business is to supply these stolen children for trafficking abroad in the name of guardianship, foster care and adoption.
“As a mother, the thought of being happy at the expense of another woman really put me off and I said I would rather carry a child of my own instead of subjecting another woman to the pain of losing their child.”
The network operates mostly in the larger Eastlands area of Nairobi and other densely-populated areas like the slums of Kibera and Mukuru, among others.
Most of the children stolen from Eastlands end up in different children homes but they are mostly kept at holding places in Kayole, Kangemi and South B, among other places.
So how are children stolen?
These individuals are always hovering around estates and schools prospecting on children they would wish to steal depending on the orders they may have.
“They observe trends around the estates and even make friends with children around by buying goodies like chocolate and candy,” a source who knows how the cartel operates tells Kurunzi.
“They even make friends with nannies or house helps as a way of developing relationships and rapport with the children.”
The source explains that some would even recruit nannies who then get lured into taking children to some places where they have no way back. She cautions against parents letting children leave or go to school on their own because “such children are the easiest” prey to these cartels.
“They lie to children that their parents have sent them to pick them and that wherever they are taking the children they will connect with their parents. Often times they have done their background checks and know so much about the children’s families.”
Which other way do they use to steal children?
The cartels also have their members among the nursing fraternity, who supply the children from hospitals.
Margaret is a nurse in one of the public hospitals in Nairobi who tells Kurunzi some of her colleagues are involved in the business.
“They lie to mothers that their child died at birth or shortly after and even bring a dead child telling them that is their child,” she explains.
“The child is exchanged and they then leave with the live child out of the hospital.”
Kurunzi understands they then deliver these children at the homes and suggest the children are abandoned.
However, in some incidences, the parents deceived have insisted on having DNA tests to confirm the identity of the child. One such incident left the hospital in an awkward situation after it turned out that the dead twins they had been told were theirs were not.
“This particular incident left many in shock,” she says, adding “the hospital had no option but produce the legitimate child”.
“It was very ugly. That is all I can tell you and I am not sure how that ended because I was transferred from that hospital.”