Bishop Gilbert Deya's Miracle Babies saga: Where it began

Bishop Gilbert Juma Deya at Milimani Law Courts where he was acquitted of child trafficking on July 17, 2023. [Collins Kweyu, Standard]

A Nairobi court has acquitted Bishop Gilbert Deya of five counts of child trafficking.

The televangelist was set free on Monday, July 17, after Milimani Senior Principal Magistrate Robinson Ondieki in his judgment said that none of the five children were found in Deya’s custody.

The Miracle Babies saga

Deya was facing child trafficking charges after it emerged he had allegedly deceived some of his followers that he had ‘powers’ to make infertile women deliver ‘miracle babies’ in Kenya and Britain.

He was wanted in Kenya on five counts of abducting babies, illegally registering them and trafficking them to the UK.

His wife, Mary Deya, was arrested in November 2004 in Nairobi and charged with stealing babies and 10 children who were found not to have had any genetic connection to the Deyas were found at the couple’s house in Mountain View estate in Nairobi.

Kenyan cops immediately sought the preacher’s prosecution over child trafficking charges. A decade-long warrant of arrest had been pending as Deya fought against extradition from Britain where the website of his ministry listed him as ‘Senior Pastor’ of London.

He had appealed against the extradition on grounds that he feared being tortured as well as facing the death sentence. The appeal was rejected on July 12, 2017, by a London Court. Kenyan police alleged that the preacher stole five children between May 1999 and December 2004 from Pumwani Maternity Hospital. The newborns were then allegedly handed over to barren women who claimed to have given birth after Deya performed ‘miracle prayers.’

The London ruling paved way for the deportation of the controversial preacher who left the country in 1997, establishing the Gilbert Deya Ministries, which has churches in Liverpool, London, Birmingham, Nottingham, Luton, Reading, Manchester, Sheffield and Leeds, where he’s the self-proclaimed archbishop.  

The Deyas were first thrust into an unwelcome spotlight in December 1998 when the first ‘miracle baby’, a boy was born to a woman whose fallopian tubes had been severed by doctors. The woman claimed Deya had prayed for her, and that she had conceived despite her condition.

In September 2005, Deya’s wife was arrested at the Kenyatta National Hospital after walking in with a day-old boy she claimed was her son who had been conceived without her having sex. She said she became pregnant after her husband’s prayers. But tests showed that Mary, then aged 57, had not given birth.

Doctors and investigators who testified against her dismissed her claims, saying she was past menopause and was biologically incapable of conceiving.

Magistrate Grace Nzioka sentenced her in 2011 for stealing a child and giving false information. The magistrate upheld medical evidence presented in court that Mary was not the baby’s maternal parent and ordered her to serve three years, which she completed, earning back her freedom.

Born in Juja in 1952, the son of a sisal worker from Bondo, Gilbert Deya quit school in lower primary. At 21, he married Mary Anyango, 14.

Deya founded Salvation of Jesus Christ Church in 1967 and one of the church members was the 1982 coup ring leader, Hezekiah Ochuka.