IMPUNITY AT WORK?

Kenya-based US couple wants DCI to produce child in court

Kenya-based US couple found the child dumped in a plastic bag in Kiambu and have used upto Sh11 million in medication

In Summary

• The Mazzoncinis became legal guardians of the child in 2017

• They have filed a habeas corpus case to have the police produce the child in court

Matt and Daisy Mazzoncini narrating their case on Wednesday to the Star
DEVASTATED: Matt and Daisy Mazzoncini narrating their case on Wednesday to the Star
Image: VICTOR IMBOTO

An American couple has filed an urgent petition for the police to produce in court a sickly child they seized last Friday evening.

Matt and Daisy Mazzoncini told the Star that they suspect a sinister motive in the purported ‘child rescue operation’ mounted by officers of the DCI on Friday evening.

Eleven men broke into their Westlands apartment on April 5 without any court order or search warrant and took away the boy, aged three years. The officers refused to give their names or identify themselves.

“They broke into our house, harassed us and forcibly took away our child. The men made a wall in front of us and then two women sneaked into our child’s bedroom and took him away with the women covering their faces,” Matt Mazzoncini said.

The Mazzoncinis became legal guardians of the child in 2017 after Daisy had been helping with medical care. The boy was found with his twin in a plastic bag in Kiambu outside a prayer centre. His brother died soon after.

Last September, on the recommendation of the Kenya National Commission for Human Rights, the Mazzoncinis met Labour CS Ukur Yattani about the possibility of getting an exemption from the moratorium on adoption.

Present were various officials including the CEO of the Child Welfare Society, Irene Mureithi. 

After the meeting CWS officials interrogated the Mazzoncinis for hours accusing them of child trafficking, falsifying the child's medical records and planning to flee the country. 

The Mazzoncinis were also in dispute with the Mogra orphanage home in Kiambu which contested the Children's Court decision to grant legal guardianship of the child to them in 2017.

A court then issued a restraining order to stop Mogra from interfering with the Mazzoncinis' guardianship.

The Mazzoncinis say that they are baffled that their child has been seized without their being deported or charged with any criminal wrongdoing. They say this is evidence that they have done nothing wrong.

How it all started

Daisy Mazzoncini, a British and American dual citizen, came to Kenya in 2016 to visit a family friend, Githoni Kirima, who ran a prayer centre in Kiambu.

One morning Githoni and Daisy found two very young infants dumped near a thicket in a plastic bag. One boy soon died.

They took the surviving child, who remained very sickly, to a Kiambu hospital and later to the Mogra Sole Breadwinner Rescue Centre orphanage in Kiambu.

“I was moved with deep compassion and started helping to care for the boy.  He was admitted several times to Gertrude’s Hospital in Muthaiga and we spent Sh1.5 million on his treatment, which we were happy to do,” Daisy said.

In 2017 April, the Childrens Court granted joint guardianship of the child to Daisy and Matt after they supplied their marriage certificate, tax records, and background clearance from the FBI. 

In September the child had a six-hour epileptic fit and was admitted to MP Shah Hospital by ambulance. A senior paediatrician advised that they should take the child abroad for specialised medical treatment.

The Mazzoncinis applied to the Children's Court for permission to travel abroad with the child. Their next hearing is due on May 14.

 “The medical records are there. We have supplied every document regarding the epileptic condition of our son to the highest offices. including CS Ukur Yattani’s,  to confirm we are genuine,” they said.

"We have even offered to have one of the Children's Department officials go with us to the US at our expense to oversee the treatment of the child until we are back in Kenya."

Matt is a former senior executive of Starbucks and is now vice-president of a tech start-up in New York, commuting between Kenya and the USA. Daisy has been a volunteer missionary in Kenya since 2016. Her visa expires in 2020.

The couple has now filed a habeas corpus application to have the police compelled to produce the child in court.

“Our child is sickly, he suffers epileptic seizures frequently. He has to be given anti-seizure medicine three times a day. We fear for his health,” Daisy said.

“Friday’s action is not in the best interest of the child and is cruel.” said a KNCHR lawyer at the commission working on the case. 

After the abduction, Matt and  Daisy went to Spring Valley police station where the 'rescue' had been reported. The OCS refused to accept the child's epilepsy medicine until the American Embassy intervened and the DCI came to collect it in Gigiri.

Lawyer Danstan Omari said the couple has spent “Sh11 million to care for the health of this child who even has a heart and neurological condition”.

“It confounds me that the state can act with such Gestapo tactics, even using people wearing hoods to take away a child from guardians who have a valid court order,” he said.

Omari said he had filed a habeas corpus application on Wednesday but the court went on a vacation. 

DCI George Kinoti and the Children Welfare Society chief executive Irene Mureithi did not respond to calls and messages seeking comment.