A Tanzanian pastor, her assistant and a confidant were charged on Monday with stealing a Kenyan child.

Lucresia Magabi, her assistant Jackson Onchari and Dorcas Nyonchora were arrested on July 20 at Isebania Border Yard, a crossing to Tanzania, with a one-and-half-month-old boy.

They were planning to cross over to Tanzania with the boy. They were charged with child theft, which they denied before principal magistrate Linus Mesa at the chief magistrate’s court in Kehancha.

State counsel Mark Mong’are said the three “took the child with intent to deprive unknown parents who had the lawful care of the child”.

Magabi said she is married to a Kenyan and is childless. The pastor said she was informed that a pregnant woman in Nairobi who could not take care of her child was selling her infant.

“She gave birth on July 14 and I was told to go over and buy the child. On July 18, I was called and told to pick the infant up or someone else would take him,” she said.

Magabi said she met with the woman in Nairobi, paid an unspecified amount for the infant and was heading home when she was arrested.

The pastor said she was ready to compel the woman who sold her the child to testify in court. Magabi said she was unaware of Kenya’s adoption laws.

“The matter is a subject of investigation. Adoption is done through a court process and there are restriction if it is across the border,” the magistrate explained to her through a translator.

Her assistant Onchanri said he was not aware of what was going on and was arrested after police inquired if the pastor was pregnant.

“I help her in church and at her home. I was asked by police if she has ever been pregnant and I said no. I was later arrested and don’t know [anything about] the issue,” he said.

The third defendant did not object.

The state sought to hold the suspects for 14 days to complete investigations but the court gave it seven working days.

The case will be heard on July  29. The baby was taken to a children’s home in Migori.

Edited by R.Wamochie