Kenyan Evangelical Pastor Walks Free as Child Theft Charges Collapse in Court

Kenyan Evangelical Pastor Walks Free as Child Theft Charges Collapse in Court

In a shocking turn of events, Kenyan evangelical pastor Gilbert Deya, who was accused of stealing children and presenting them as "miracle babies," has been acquitted by a Nairobi court. The 86-year-old former stonemason, who gained prominence for his claims of performing miraculous pregnancies through prayers, was finally cleared of all charges on Monday.

Deya had been accused of kidnapping five children between 1999 and 2004, but Magistrate Robison Ondieki ruled that the prosecution failed to provide sufficient evidence to support the allegations.

Deya's lawyer, John Swaka, confidently stated that the charges were falsified and had no basis before the court, emphasizing his client's contentment with the verdict. The controversial pastor, who owns several churches in London, Liverpool, and Nottingham, was extradited from the UK to face trial in Kenya after a decade-long legal battle.

Gilbert Deya and his wife, Mary, had claimed that women struggling with infertility or menopause could conceive within four months through their prayers alone, without any sexual relations. Prosecutors argued that the babies presented as "miracle babies" were actually stolen, with many of them taken from the maternity ward of Pumwani Hospital in Nairobi, a poverty-stricken suburb of the capital.

This case has shed light on the prevalence of self-proclaimed pastors with no theological training in Kenya, a predominantly Christian country in East Africa that houses around 4,000 churches, as per official records. This incident has reignited the discussion around the need for stricter regulations within religious institutions.

The discovery of nearly 400 bodies in the Shakahola forest on the Kenyan coast, linked to a sect that practiced extreme fasting in the name of meeting Jesus Christ, has raised concerns about the lack of oversight and accountability in some churches.

The leader of this sect, self-proclaimed pastor Paul Nthenge Mackenzie, faces terrorism charges. While Deya may have been acquitted due to insufficient evidence, this case has raised broader questions about the protection of vulnerable individuals, especially children, and the accountability of religious leaders.

As Kenya grapples with these complex issues, many are calling for greater regulation to prevent such incidents from occurring in the future. Only time will tell if these calls for change will be heeded and if stricter measures will be put in place to safeguard the well-being and rights of all Kenyan citizens.

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