One baby was healthy and the other cold and lifeless, a sight that horrified Michael Mubangizi and his wife, a young Ugandan couple who soon felt one of their twin babies had been swapped at Uganda’s main public hospital. They rejected the dead one, saying it wasn’t theirs, and a DNA test later proved they were right.
Mubangizi said the likely prospect that he won’t ever be united with his missing baby, born a year and a half ago and whose whereabouts are unknown, fills him with anguish. As a court is set to hear his civil case against Mulago Hospital, officials and some activists say parents in Uganda risk losing their children in scams orchestrated by doctors and nurses who are apparently selling the babies.
Some may be colluding with childless Ugandan couples while other babies are possibly being sold to foreigners. Last week a Czech man without proper adoption papers was arrested while trying to leave Uganda with a 3-month-old baby, according to Moses Binoga, a police detective and Uganda’s top anti-human trafficking official.
Details are scant and officials don’t know how widespread the baby thefts are. But this year alone, at least three cases of baby theft have been reported at Mulago Hospital in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, according to police spokesman Patrick Onyango. A police report released last year said there were 261 cases of child theft over a 12-month period, but that includes teenagers who are duped to go abroad for work but are forced into the sex trade. The police report did not break down the numbers.