Gullible Kenyans fall for fake Covid-19 vaccines
Bernice Mbugua and George Kebaso
Scores of unsuspecting Kenyans could have fallen victims to fraudsters administering fake Covid-19 jabs.
The fraudsters, posing as medical doctors, were charging as much as Sh3,500 for each of the fake Johnson & Johnson vaccine, it also emerged.
The government will start distributing the 141,600 Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses this morning with vaccination expected to kick off in Nairobi.
Half of these vaccine doses will go to private health facilities while the remaining will be administered at public health institutions, Head of national Covid-19 vaccine deployment task force, Dr Willis Akhwale said last evening.
He confirmed that the vaccine had been cleared for distribution yesterday afternoon.
Dr Akhwale told People Daily, every county will get few doses after a careful balancing act which might have delayed distribution and commencement of vaccination.
Initially, the government had scheduled vaccination exercise to commence Tuesday this week at the Mbagathi and Kenyatta National Hospitals, but low shipment that was below the expected arrival could have scuttled the plan.
Masquerade as doctors
At Milimani Law Courts, Wallace Mugendi Njiru and Kenneth Mukundi Njeru were arraigned for allegedly administering the fake vaccines while masquerading as medical doctors.
In an affidavit filed in court by Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) George Kinoti through Corporal Kapairo Lekakeny, the court heard that the suspects were arrested on September 7 at Crane Hospital within Kasarani area, Nairobi County.
Suspects masqueraded as doctors employed at Kenyatta National Hospital, collected huge amounts of money from innocent Kenyans while administering fake Covid-19.
“The respondents, Mugendi and Mukundi, are alleged to have personated a medical doctor and administered to unsuspecting clients fake Johnson and Johnson Covid-19 vaccines,” the DCI told the court.
Lekakeny informed the court that the illegal and fake Covid-19 vaccination exercise took place on diverse dates between July and August but was reported on September 7.
“That Covid-19 is a worldwide threat to mankind and the respondents capitalised on that by faking the vaccines and administering to unsuspecting clients for monetary gains without care of their health,” said the DCI.
The suspects are also alleged to have impersonated doctors from KNH on diverse dates between January 1, 2020 and September 7.
“The respondents are suspected to have committed a very serious offence of endangering the lives of their clients making them susceptible to Covid-19 by making them believe that they were vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson vaccine which is not the case and making them not get the right vaccine,” Lekakeny said.
He added that even though it is not clear how many Kenyans had fallen victims of the fake doctors, detectives had, during arrest, recovered assorted consent sheets with details of those who took the vaccine and who are still unaware that they were administered fake vaccines.
“Victims of the two suspects upon noticing that they don’t appear in the ministry of health database as those who are vaccinated, were tormented mentally due to uncertainty of the contents of what they were administered with,” read the affidavit.
The police sought to have the two suspects detained for five days arguing that they need time to conclude investigations into the case as there was need to conduct an identification parade on the suspects before they are charged.
The court heard that the detectives also need to arrest other accomplices who have been administering fake vaccines in other hospitals facilities that they operate in Ongata Rongai.
DCI said that the suspects, upon interrogation, confessed that they were assisted to register the facility in Kasarani, Nairobi by an authorised medical doctor to enable them operate the business without being detected by regulatory bodies.
“ The DCI investigators need to rely on the suspects to assist in locating other hospital facilities that they operate in Ongata Rongai in view of making recoveries” he said.
The two suspects did not oppose the prosecution’s application to have them be detained for five days to enable the state complete the probe in the matter.
In a brief ruling, Milimani Senior Resident Magistrate Senior Resident Magistrate Sinkiyian Tobiko allowed the prosecution to continue holding the suspects in police cells pending completion of investigations into the matter.