Magistrate raises the alarm over rising cases of child theft from hospitals, as court convicts three


Lusaka Magistrate, Chrispin Hampungani, has expressed concern over the growing mistrust in hospitals due to the criminal act of child stealing, noting that some women were now opting for home births, resulting in a rise in maternal deaths.

Magistrate Hampungani delivered a five-year jail sentence to former Judiciary employee, Precious Nkunika, nutrition demonstrator, Emily Hall, and UTH maid, Rebecca Mkandawire, all convicted of child stealing.

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The incident occurred when, Elina Lungu, the infant’s mother, was hospitalised at the UTH Intensive Care Unit after giving birth.

Nkunika, who had recently given birth herself, lost her child.

The missing baby, taken on Saturday, May 7, 2022, was found in Lusaka’s Kabanana area with Nkunika.

Grace Siska, Nkunika’s mother, received a two-year sentence for harboring the child, as per Zambian laws.

However, Nelly Kasalo, a UTH nutritionist, was acquitted due to insufficient evidence.

Kasalo was visibly emotional upon her release.

Nkunika, Hall, and Mkandawire were found guilty of stealing the child from Lungu’s possession.

Magistrate Hampungani highlighted evidence pointing to Nkunika’s fraudulent actions in taking the child.

He noted Hall’s role in facilitating the theft, describing her as a family member and friend of Nkunika who arranged for the child to be taken.

Mkandawire’s involvement was noted as she delayed her departure from work to assist Nkunika, ultimately being seen with her.

During mitigation, the convicted individuals requested non-custodial sentences.

Nkunika, through her lawyer, expressed her potential to positively contribute to national development despite her youth.

Magistrate Hampungani, however, stressed the gravity of the offense, citing its impact on maternal healthcare trust and subsequent rise in home births.

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