A BBC Africa Eye investigation has revealed the existence of a secretive but thriving illegal market for babies and young children in Kenya.
For over a year, a team of undercover investigators infiltrated a series of child trafficking rings that extend from the slums of Nairobi to one of the country’s biggest hospitals.
Led by reporter Njeri Mwangi, our investigation uncovered evidence of new born babies being stolen from their mothers and sold on the streets of Nairobi for as little as $400.
Working with a network of informers and whistle blowers, Africa Eye uncovered a trade in human lives that preys on the country’s most vulnerable women, leaving unimaginable trauma in its wake.
According to our evidence, new-born babies are sold from a network of unlicensed clinics in slum areas, are snatched from homeless mothers, or even stolen to order by corrupt medical staff in city hospitals.
These babies are then sold on to desperate women eager to shortcut Kenya’s complex adoption laws, or, according to one trafficker featured in the investigation, are used in human sacrifice rituals.
The perpetrators range from desperate opportunists to organised criminals. Often the people doing the snatching are petty criminals like Anita – a heavy drinker and drug user who steals babies from street mothers to sell on to a local businesswoman.
Or people like Mary Auma – who runs a makeshift clinic in a slum where poor women are pressured to sell their babies for meagre sums, while Mary negotiates to sell them on for a hefty profit.
The illegal business in babies even extends to some of Nairobi’s biggest hospitals. Fred Leparan, a clinical social worker at Mama Lucy Kibaki hospital, sold undercover reporters a two-week-old boy that he stole from the facility after just a few cursory questions and an agreement to pay cash.
There are no reliable statistics on the extent of child trafficking in Kenya; no comprehensive government reports or national surveys. But this investigation provides the most damning evidence yet of a secretive, lucrative, and apparently thriving illegal trade in children.
BBC Africa eye presented their allegations to Mama Lucy Kibaki hospital, and those individuals who our evidence suggests are involved in child trafficking, but they declined to comment.