Kumasi police investigate loss of baby’s body

The police in Kumasi are investigating the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of a supposedly stillborn baby at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) last Wednesday.

While the hospital maintains that the baby was born dead at dawn that day, its parents doubt the assertion because they cannot find the body.

The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of KATH, Mr Kwame Frimpong, told the Daily Graphic that the death of the baby was not in doubt, as the documents which its mother, Swabia Abdul-Mumin, had thumbprinted clearly indicated that she was aware the baby had been stillborn.

He said at a meeting between the family and the hospital authorities last Thursday, Swabia admitted before everybody present, including her mother-in-law, that her dead son had been shown to her.

The body of the baby, who, according to the records of the hospital, had been stillborn, was supposed to have been sent to the mortuary by the mortuary attendant but it was rather picked up by the cleaner who tidied up the Maternity Ward that day.

According to information gathered from the hospital and the police, the cleaner, Baba Abeley, claimed to have picked up the baby’s body that was in a box, together with two others, to the incinerator for burning.

 Mr Frimpong, however, pointed out that the last time the incinerator was used was February 1, 2014, and that Abeley’s claim could not be ascertained.

He said that was what compelled the authorities to hand Abeley over to the police. Besides, the disposal of bodies “is the work of the mortuary man and not the cleaner”.

The normal practice with neonatal deaths at the hospital, according to the PRO, was that the bodies were usually wrapped in plastic bags and labelled with the names of the mothers and the babies’ weight and times of death and kept at the mortuary for some time before “they are given mass burial”.

He claimed that 80 per cent of families did not care about what happened to the bodies after they had been told their babies had died.

He promised the public that the hospital would not shield anyone, adding, “We are prepared to collaborate with the police to unravel the mystery surrounding the disappearance of the body.”

Police account
Meanwhile, the Public Relations Officer of the Ashanti Regional Police, Assistant Superintendent Police (ASP) Mr Mohammed Tanko, said the suspect had been released on police enquiry bail, while investigations continued.

He said the suspect told the police that on the day in question while cleaning the Maternity Ward, one of the nurses on duty told him to cart the box containing the dead bodies away.

According to Mr Tanko, Abeley said he realised that one of the boxes was heavy and when he opened it, he realised that it contained three bodies of babies.

Abeley said he took the box to where he normally burnt waste and when he was about to burn it, he was called to do something else. 

Abeley claimed that on his return, the box was nowhere to be found.

Mr Tanko said the police were trying to establish whether or not the baby had died.

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