Theft of body parts shocks relatives

2010-09-19 16:09

Kenya could be facing a thriving underground trade in human body parts, if recent incidents are anything to go by.

The latest was this week when an employee of Kenyatta National Hospital and his ­accomplice from a private funeral parlour were bust trying to sell a male penis to ­investigative journalists posing as buyers.

Unaware that the grisly deal they were about to clinch was being captured on camera, Eliud Watiri Mwangi and Paul Kariuki Marunda arrived at the rendezvous with the body part wrapped in a green plastic bag, ready to receive Ksh50?000 (about R4?200) in payment.

Instead the duo literally walked into the long arm of the law as police, who had been lying in wait, pounced.

With cameras rolling, a teary-eyed Mwangi, a mortuary attendant, pleaded for leniency saying his life had been ruined. “Why are you doing this to me? Please, do you want me to die .?.?. do you want to kill me?” he cried.

Police chief Johana Chebii says the incident could be the tip of an iceberg.

“From what we have gathered, this has been going on for long, involving ­mortuary attendants and some people out there,” Chebii said.

The two suspects had indicated that they normally sold the body parts to Tanzanian witchdoctors, police said.

On Tuesday both Mwangi and Marunda appeared before Nairobi chief magistrate Cecilia Githua charged with harming a dead body by severing its male genitals.

They both denied the charges and were ­released on Ksh100?000 bail each. Only Mwangi was able to pay, leaving his accomplice in a police cell.

After this exposé of the trade in body parts several people rushed to the morgues to check on the bodies of dead relatives. One family found an ear and an eye missing from their relative’s body.

Eric Kilel was killed in an accident in the city a week and a half ago and police had ­taken his body to the morgue. There was a standoff between the family and morgue staff who claimed that cats and rats, ­allegedly roaming the facility, had eaten the missing parts.

“I positively identified him but I was shocked to note that his eye and left ear were missing,” elder brother Richard Kilel told City Press.

“I don’t know if villagers will view the body when we take it for burial. There are big ­scarring holes on the eyes and there is blood oozing from the ears.”

Last month a Tanzanian court sentenced Kenyan Nathan Mutei to 17 years in prison for trying to sell his albino friend for Ksh20?million to witchdoctors in that ­country.

Mutei had tricked his 20-year-old albino friend, Robinson Mukwana, to leave Kenya ostensibly to get him work in Tanzania after striking a deal with undercover police ­officers he believed to be witchdoctors.

Albinos are under state protection in ­Tanzania because they are targeted by witchdoctors.

Police statistics show that about 50 albino adults and children have been killed in ­Tanzania in the last three years.

There is a proliferation of witchdoctors in Kenya, mostly from neighbouring Tanzania, who promise potent charms to cure all ­manner of illnesses.

Urban centres have posters touting the bush doctors’ prowess. They claim to cure impotence, bring riches, love, promotion at work, hip and breast boosters (for women) and protection against witchcraft, among other things.

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