A pathologist suspected of stealing body organs from corpses was yesterday charged in a Nairobi court. Dr Moses Njue, who was once the chief Government pathologist, was accused of secretly taking away a man’s heart while carrying out a postmortem on his body.
The bizarre theft is alleged to have occurred at the Lee Funeral Home in Nairobi when the doctor did an autopsy on Mr Timothy Mwandi Muumbo.
Dr Njue appeared at the Milimani law courts barely a week after it emerged that the State had previously recommended his prosecution over another theft of body parts in Meru. In the second case, he allegedly took away the dead man’s heart and kidneys while operating on his body at Meru’s Consolata Mission Hospital.
The organs were only discovered missing by a separate team of doctors after the body had been exhumed. Yesterday, Dr Njue, who used to carry out some operations assisted by his son, also a pathologist, was released on a Sh300,000 bail by Chief Magistrate Francis Andayi.
He denied three counts of organ theft and destroying evidence. Prosecutor Catherine Mwaniki did not oppose the release of the accused on bail but told the magistrate to grant them strict bail after considering the magnitude of the offence. The matter will be heard on July 3 and mentioned on May 28, 2018.
The first case claims that Dr Njue stole Mr Muumbo’s heart during postmortem and in the second, he is said to have destroyed the body organ knowing it would be needed as medical evidence. The doctor is also accused of illegally taking out Muumbo’s heart from his body. His son Lemuel Anasha Mureithi Njue did not appear in court and was ordered to do so on May 28 in connection with the same case, which occurred on June 25, 2015.
His alleged victim was a 70-year-old former civil servant, Benedict Karau, who had died of disputed causes, raising the suspicion of his lawyer son.
A tale of fishy medical findings, State-ordered exhumations and body organs being carried out of a surgical theatre in buckets emerged when the dead man’s family asked the court to order a repeat post-mortem three years after he had been buried.
Karau, a polygamist, died at the home of his third wife on March 2, 2015. But the order to prosecute the doctor who handled his body came last month after a review of the matter by the Deputy Public Prosecutor. It had been prompted by a complaint filed by his son Charles Mwongela because of inconsistencies in the post-mortem report and the account of the old man’s death given by his youngest wife, Martha Gakou.
On the night her husband died, Martha told the family that the old man had choked on his food while taking dinner. Dr Njue’s postmortem later stated that he had died of a heart attack but the family noted that his body had bruises and injuries on the head and hands.