THIRTY-SIX RESCUED

Catholic church children's home closed on sodomy claims

The cook escaped and he is still at large.

In Summary

•The county’s children department stormed Martyrs of Uganda Children’s Home in  after obtaining court orders to do so.

•The school has 274 children.

Government officials and Catholic nuns during the closure of Catholic Diocese of Machakos, Martyrs of Uganda Children's Home on March 20.
SHOCK: Government officials and Catholic nuns during the closure of Catholic Diocese of Machakos, Martyrs of Uganda Children's Home on March 20.
Image: GEORGE OWITI

The government Wednesday closed down a children’s home owned by the Catholic Church over alleged cases of sodomy in Machakos county.

The county’s children department together with other relevant government agencies stormed Martyrs of Uganda Children’s Home in Machakos subcounty after obtaining court orders to do so.

The county director of children services Salome Muthama said they rescued 36 children from the institution after eight of them were  sodomised by a cook.

“The report was brought to us by Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) on February 14, 2019, who had come to our office with one of the sodomised boy’s mother,” Muthama said.

The county immediately placed the boys in a nearby government institution for safety, she said when addressing the press during the institution’s closure.

Muthama said they will plead with the court to allow them release all the children to their guardians.

The school has 274 children.

The home also houses a primary school which is open to the local community.

"On February 15, one boy at the primary school reported being sodomised by the school’s cook. He was rushed to hospital and the medical report indicated he was raped," the KHRC report seen by the Star reads.

On interrogation, he said some of the orphans at the school had confessed to each other about being sodomised. The police were notified and the officer commanding police station investigated the case of only one boy.

The boy’s mum reached out for help on February 24. 

KHRC visited the police, then the children's department in Machakos county, which took up the issue.

They went to the school and on interviewing the children realised eight more boys had been repeatedly raped for nearly three years. 

The headmistress of Uganda Martyrs Primary School, sister Beth Musengya, said she heard of the case three weeks ago.

“We informed the boy’s mother and the police, the issue of eight others is not in my knowledge since I do not run the home,” Musengya said.

She said the cook had escaped and they had informed the police.

“I am not involved in the home but the school,” she added.

Residents say child abuse in the home has gone on for the last 10 years and it’s only in the last three years that the issue has come to light.

The commission said the church, the local priest, the school and local OCS need to be held to a higher standard of duty, adding that the cook, Katuku, is yet to be arrested.

KHRC filed the case under OB 41 of 15/02/2019 at Machakos police station.  

Machakos children officer Emily Kimanzi said the home did not have a day watchman, the suspect did not have a certificate of good conduct, the institution had no matron and the cook who had been left to sleep with them sodomised them.

Kimanzi said the suspect is also an old boy of the institution.

“We want to remove orphans from children homes so they are integrated into the society,” she said.