A man masquerading as a doctor in Kenya is being investigated after one of his employees set up an undercover camera in the examination room and filmed him apparently raping an unconscious patient.
On Sunday, a Kenyan television station aired the tape of James Mugo wa Wairimu, who operates two medical clinics in the lower-income Nairobi neighborhoods of Zimmerman and Githurai. He markets himself as a gynecologist, according to Citizen TV, and hundreds of women visit the clinic for the reproductive care and the occasional free procedures it advertises.
But after the video hit the airwaves, health officials and medical boards revealed that Wairimu is neither a registered doctor nor a nurse, and the clinic was operating without a license. In fact, it had already been shut down once, in June, and apparently resumed operations without much delay.
The unnamed employee of Wairimu, who placed a camera in his examination room, told Citizen TV that the staff had long wondered why the doctor sometimes locked the door during consultations. When he saw what his camera had captured, he sent the tape to the TV station.
The resulting investigation turned up multiple allegations of negligence. The TV station was unable to track down the woman who appears in the video, but it did speak to another former patient who had gone in for a pelvic scan, and who said she was given pills that knocked her unconscious. She said that when she awoke, she did not have any underwear on. When she went to a public hospital, doctors there told her that sort of thing “happens a lot in hospitals,” she told the TV station. She said she took her claims to the police, but was told there was no evidence that could assist her.
When the Citizen TV team went to confront Wairimu on the rape allegations, he locked himself in his consultation room and refused to emerge.
Quack doctors operating in unlicensed private medical clinics are not rare in Kenya.
In an August study of women who use private medical clinics in Kenya, respondents told the BMC Health Services Research journal that they avoided public facilities because they are treated poorly and often encounter a shortage of drugs. The study was conducted over 125 health-care facilities; 84 percent were private clinics and only half of these operated with licenses.
Evelyne Opondo, the Africa director for the Center for Reproductive Rights, says she hopes to pursue a lawsuit against the Kenyan government for allowing Wairimu’s clinic to continue operating after being shut down in June.
“It’s the biggest telling, as far as I’m concerned, that the government has really failed,” she says. “The problem is that this is just one thing that someone has come forward with, but there are many incidents going on where people are documenting or complaining and there’s no follow-up.”
CRR is working with the Federation of Women Lawyers to explore a civil suit that “holds the government accountable for the violations of this man and the fact he was operating,” she says. “In this case we are hoping that we will take the government to court to challenge their negligence and inaction and fact they created an opportunity for this to happen.”
Opondo says that the growing attention on the case will make it difficult for the government to keep sweeping the problem under the rug.
The criminal investigation has already been taken out of the hands of local police, and given to detectives in the Serious Crimes Unit, who are allegedly gathering evidence to arrest the so-called doctor.
Wairimu’s clinics have now been shuttered for being unlicensed and the man at the center of the scandal has retreated into hiding. All the while, he has been actively posting on Facebook, proclaiming his innocence and decrying what he calls “media mob justice.”
“I’d not hesitate to present myself to the police if needed any minute, anytime,” he wrote on Facebook, to his 35,000 followers. “For now, just be assured I’m safe and as fit as fiddle. I perfectly understand the frustration of the thousands of my friends trying to reach me.”
On another Facebook page that he appears to have just started, he wrote: “Since am a gynecologist my enemies knew how they can HIT ME HARD.”