Woman captured on video abusing nurse surrenders to police

Screengrab of video of Vanessa Ogema (left) abusing a nurse at Port Victoria Sub-County Hospital in Busia. [Courtesy]

The woman who was captured in a video abusing a nurse at Port Victoria Sub-County Hospital in Busia has surrendered to the police.

Busia County Police Commander Joe Lekuta, said Vanessa Ogema surrendered herself at Busia Police Station at 1:15 pm on Sunday after police launched a manhunt for her.

“She surrendered herself before the police at 1:15 pm, and we have already processed her to appear before Busia Law Courts on Monday,” said Lekuta.

“The suspect came to the station in the company of members of her family and a lawyer, and she will spend the night in our custody before we charge her in court,” he said.

Lekuta said Ogema, aged 22, will be arraigned on Monday in Busia Law Courts to face charges of causing disturbance and malicious damage of property at Port Victoria Sub-County Hospital.

“We have already done everything, and her file is ready. We are just waiting hours before we arraign her,” he said.

Ogema walked into Busia police station while covering her face with a surgical mask and a hood.

The woman is a Theatre Technology student at Nairobi Women's Hospital College.

In the video, which went viral on January 3, 2023, Ogema and an unidentified man were seen harassing a female nurse demanding she give a patient priority while other patients were waiting to be served, a request the nurse declined.

On January 4, the Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) withdrew nurses from Port Victoria Level Four Hospital in Budalang’i, over the assault.

 KNUN Secretary General Seth Panyako. [File, Standard]

On Thursday, while at Nangina Mission Hospital in Funyula constituency in the company of Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha, KNUN Secretary General Seth Panyako said they have withdrawn staff from Port Victoria Hospital until the culprits are arrested and prosecuted.

Panyako insisted the government must guarantee the safety of healthcare workers and provide a conducive working environment.

The union’s move paralyzed medical services at the facility.

“There is no healthcare worker in the country who goes to work to either mistreat, hinder, or refuse to offer services. We are trained to save lives and we will not allow anyone to march to any health facility and mistreat assault, and insult our healthcare workers, be it the son of the President, Minister, Governor, or any other leader," he said.

“We can use any means to stop our nurses from mistreatment, assault, and insults,” said added.

“We undergo training to treat and help our people, to save their lives. We do not undergo training to harm our people because we are always in the hospitals to serve them.”

The KNUN Secretary General gave the security agencies a 48-hour ultimatum to apprehend the culprits before the union can advise the nurses to resume work at the facility.

“We have already withdrawn all our nurses at Port Victoria Hospital, and no services are currently going on at that facility," he said.

“We are not offering any services at the hospital, and if the government fails to arrest the suspects, we are going to withdraw all our nurses in the entire Busia county and paralyse health services,” he added.

“We cannot invest so much in the health sector as a country, only for a few individuals to resort to destroying what we have achieved over the years,” said Panyako.

Signage at  Port Victoria Hospital, Busia. [File, Standard]

He urged the government to transfer the training of theatre technicians from the TVET to the Nursing Council of Kenya to uphold the integrity and standards of the healthcare system in Kenya.

CS Nakhumicha, while on a tour of Busia County to assess the progress of the Universal Health Coverage Programme, said nurses and healthcare workers are the pillars of the health system.

She urged the relevant arms of government to act swiftly and arrest the perpetrators.

“I am not going to allow our healthcare workers to be harassed; they must be protected. I am urging my colleague, the CS for Interior, to move swiftly and ensure the suspects are arrested and charged,” said Nakhumicha.

Busia Deputy Governor, also the CECM for Health Services in Busia County, Dr Arthur Odera, said they had incurred huge losses due to the destruction of property at Port Victoria Hospital.