NAIROBI, Kenya, May 14 – The sadness in Lillian Ayoko’s eyes is evidence of the numbing pain that takes over each time she remembers her departed two-month old son who died in circumstances that are far known to her and her family.
To Ayoko, April 11, 2014 will forever remain a horrific day etched in her memory and picking up the pieces is a journey she hasn’t embarked on saying that she is yet to get over the anger, frustration and loss.
“I had lived peacefully with my house help and I felt that I could trust her. She was very soft spoken and when she was done with her chores, she would sit on the balcony and read the Bible as she sang. Who knew that she was to become the greatest source of misery for my family?”
“I recall a time that she asked me to help her record her songs and my husband and I even discussed how we would help her achieve her dream.”
As a teary-eyed Ayoko recalls how she trusted her songbird-bible-reading house help, the loss is more complicated because the only eyewitness to this tragedy is her other four-year-old son Christopher.
The minor was locked up in a dark house for hours before his parents came home. For the little boy, there is very little that he can tell his parents or the police.
She recalled that fateful day: “I had just returned to work on April 7 after my maternity leave. Same week Friday as was norm, I called in to check on the house help and during the conversation she asked if she could give the baby additional feeding. I was a bit hesitant to allow her because the baby usually took one bottle of milk.”
“When I called in to check at midday she told me the baby was almost done with the first bottle and told her I would call back in a few hours to check if the baby was done and left it at that.”
“Later when I tried to call the house help her phone was off which is not unusual because her phone had issues. However I kept trying, I even tried a number of times while I was on my way home with little success.”
“When I got home I noticed that the house was dark and the clothes had been left outside, which was strange especially because it was raining. When we called out her name and there was no response we then started calling out Christopher’s name.”
“Luckily, Chris knew how to open the kitchen door with ease. He opened the door and came out to the balcony. The first question that he asked was; where his ‘aunty’ was.”
Ayoko explained “at that moment I knew something was amiss and I immediately went into panic.”
“My husband started climbing up to the balcony, luckily we live on the first floor so it was easy, he threw me the keys to the house and I went on to open the front door.”
“All through as I went up the stairs I was sure that something was terribly wrong; many thoughts ran through my mind. I told myself that it was unlike the house help to leave a four-year-old and two month old baby alone in the house.”
“As I opened the front door, my husband hurriedly stopped me from proceeding and I could read shock all over his face and it immediately confirmed my fears that something was terribly wrong. However I did not think that the next words from his mouth was that our son was dead.”
“As he tried to calm me, I pushed him away and ran to my baby’s crib. I shook the baby and there was no response and when I touched him, his face was cold and his hands stiff.”
“I was frantic and though I knew that he was gone, in my denial I ran with him to a nearby dispensary and on getting there the doctors did not do much, all they did was confirm that my son was gone.”
Ayoko says that those words went past her like a dream and she held on to the baby even as her husband went to report to the police station.
Her husband later joined her at the hospital and later went back to the police station where they recorded statements.
As the family buried their baby Leone a week later, Police at Buru Buru Police Station say that they are still searching for the suspect, but the lead investigator Inspector Moses Mokaya says the case is complicated as they have very little to go by.
“The case is quite complicated because the only eyewitness is the four-year-old and there is very little that he can recall.”
“Another thing is that there are no records of the suspect. The employer did not have her (house help’s) identification card nor does she have any photograph so all we can do is trace her through her phone and her relatives.”
Police say this case is justification for their regular awareness campaigns that employers know as much as possible about their domestic workers. Mokaya says had there been records of the runaway house help, it would have been possible to trace her through her national ID details including her village and district.
“Employers have to keep tabs on their employees so that they can make follow ups on their whereabouts. In Lillian’s case all is not lost. We are sure that we will get the suspect even though it may take time… better late than never,” urged Mokaya.