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Two women embroiled in legal battle over two-year-old baby

By Michael Ollinga | Published Sat, February 3rd 2018 at 00:00, Updated February 2nd 2018 at 22:29 GMT +3
Mrs Ursilla Cheptoo is overwhelmed at the Eldoret Law Court where they are fighting for a motherhood of 2 years, nine months child with another woman who was not in the court yesterday. The court ordered the police to hand over the child to Cheptoo as they wait for DNA results. 02.02.2018. [PHOTO/PETER OCHIENG/STANDARD].

Two women are embroiled in a court battle over parenthood of a baby who is now in a child rescue centre.

Ursillah Jeptoo and Lucy Jepkoech each claim to be mother to the baby aged two years, nine months.

Chepkoech, who is the complainant, alleges the baby was stolen from her at Kapsabet County Referral Hospital where she had given birth on April 24, 2015. But Jeptoo, who has been living with the baby also claims to have given birth to the baby on the same day but at a different hospital.

She was arrested by Eldoret police on January 25, on allegations that she had stolen Chepkoech’s child.

In the suit, Chepkoech says she had asked a woman in the hospital to look after her baby as she sorted out an urgent matter only to return and find her missing with the baby.

But the woman alleged to have stolen the baby denies the allegations indicating that she gave birth to the baby on April 24, 2015 at Race Course Hospital Eldoret over 40 kilometres from Kapsabet and has been breastfeeding the baby since then.

She attached copies of birth certificate and post-natal clinic records in her defence, indicating that she is yet to wean the baby who she says is asthmatic and needs close attention.

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The women pleaded with the court to have the baby taken from the child rescue centre, and handed over to her until the matter is determined.

“I am ready to abide by all court directions including bringing the child to court every morning. I am aware these allegations have been there for a while and I have never jeopardised the investigations, keeping the child away from me is torture to her and my family…” she pleaded.

She also said she agreed to provide DNA samples to police to establish parenthood of the child when police arrested her on January 25.

"By their orders we accompanied them to Eldoret Police Station and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital where they took our blood samples as well as those of the child for alleged DNA tests…” the woman said.

Yesterday, the woman claiming the child is hers did not appear in court prompting the court to accept Jeptoo's request to temporarily keep the child.

"It is not possible for a child to be borne by two mothers in two different places. I vacate earlier orders to the prosecution and direct the child is taken from the rescue centre and returned to the parents where she was picked from until DNA results are out,” ruled Obulutsa as Jeptoo broke into tears.

He further ordered the child be presented in court on Monday to confirm she is no longer under the rescue centre but in Jeptoo's custody.

“The child would be here and we would apply King Solomon’s wisdom to handle this matter that is a replica of the dispute he solved. In the matter the one woman who cried was given the baby and today also one woman who is present has cried,” added Obulutsa.

On January 31, Police Constable Samson Kimeli in response to the application by Jeptoo said the issue before court was to determine the biological parents of the child which can be done through a DNA test.

“DNA samples were taken to Nairobi and results are not yet back and we pray the child be at a neutral place under care of the government until biological parents are determined. We fear for the life of the child of either claimant is allowed custody…” read a response by Kimeli.

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