On Friday February 15, 2019, Henry Mutisya received a unique phone call from his sister asking him to accompany her to her son’s school. What followed was a myriad of revelations no one would ever wish on anyone.
Henry’s nephew schooled at Martyrs of Uganda Children’s Home run by the Catholic Church in Machakos. The orphanage has a primary school wing that is open to the local community.
When they got to the school, the school administration informed them that their child had reported being sodomized by the school’s cook, Mr Katuku Mutuku.
“We were shocked by the news. We went to the police first, reported the matter and proceeded to the hospital,” said Mutisya.
According to the boy, the cook would lure his victims with food and once inside the kitchen, he would sodomize them and threat to not give them food if they mentioned it to anyone.
The matter was reported at Machakos Police Station and filed under OB 41 of 15/02/2019.
The 13-year-old class six boy was immediately taken to Machakos Level Five Hospital where a medical report indicated that he had been sodomized.
The hospital report was taken back to the police station and the matter left for investigations. No one from the school accompanied the family to the hospital.
“When we went to the school on Saturday, the cook was still in the school and the school management had not made any report on the matter,” Mutisya told local media stations on Monday.
The young boy revealed that some of the orphans at the school had confessed to each other about being sodomized. This is something Mr Mutisya believes the school is aware of.
“The other boys said I was lucky because I have a family to report to,” the young boy told his uncle
The Officer Commanding Police Station chose to investigate the case of only one boy and left out the other cases because no formal report was made.
After inaction by the investigating officer, the mother reached out to the Kenya Human Rights Commission.
On February 24, KHRC went to Machakos to follow up on the progress of the case.
“We went to Machakos on the 24th, engaged the children’s department, were dismissed by the police and the DCIO was responsive,” said Diana Gichengo, Program officer, Kenya Human Rights Commission.
The children’s department and KHRC visited the school and found out that eight more boys, aged between 13 and 14 years had been repeatedly sodomized for nearly 3 years.
“Upon interrogation, we learned that the cook doubles up as a social worker for the home. He spends the night at the facility,” said Emily Kimanzi, Machakos Deputy Children’s Officer.
“The man has been sleeping with the boys for the last three years. He moves from one boy to another during the night. We have also learned that the young boys are now sleeping with each other,” added Ms Kimanzi.
It later became apparent that the cook is an old boy of the facility and has been there for more than 10 years.
The other eight boys were taken by the Children’s department to Machakos Rescue Center and five have so far been reunited with the families.
All this time, the leadership of the Machakos Catholic Church has been indifferent and did not resist the closure of the home. The rest of the children are still at the facility as they wait for their parents to pick them up.
“We were shocked to learn that the children have both parents. I do not understand why able-bodied parents can take their children to a children’s home,” Ms Kimanzi said.
According to the children’s department, the eight children need counseling and medical check-up.
Last week, the Area Advisory Council which deals with child protection issues and the Children’s department held a meeting and resolved to close the home indefinitely. The primary school wing is still open to learning.
“I’m heading to court today (Monday), I need to get a court order to take the other children from the home and reunite them with their families,” Ms Kimanzi said.
They have also brought the matter to court, although the suspect is at large.
“On Friday, the school and the children’s home allowed the cook to continue working until Tuesday (February 19) when he fled. However, the school neither restrained him nor effect a citizen’s arrest,” said Ms Gichengo.
The KHRC has asked the government to look into other ways of looking after Orphans and Vulnerable Children other than children’s home because they are clearly scenes of children violations.
“As a community, we should not rush to take orphan children to children’s home. Let us take care of them. Let us bring them up in a family-based environment. These children’s home are a money-making machine,” Kimanzi lamented.