A Kenyan court was left stunned when a remandee thought to be female turned out to be male.
Shieys Chepkosgei had been charged on Monday with impersonation for irregularly working as a female nursing student at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret, western Kenya, and was remanded at Eldoret GK Women’s Prison.
However, on Tuesday, during routine checks, warders suspected that Chepkosgei was male. A quick physical examination was carried out and the suspect was referred to undergo further tests to ascertain her sex.
Chepkosgei was taken back to court, where the officer in charge of the women’s prison asked the magistrate to reverse an earlier order which directed that Chepkosgei be remanded at the prison.
Chief Magistrate Charles Obulutsa issued another order directing the suspect to be detained at Eldoret West police station to pave the way for further medical examinations to confirm the sex.
“As I issue this order I even do not know whether the suspect will be detained in male or female cells. I hope [the] investigating officer will use his wisdom to ensure that the suspect is detained at a right place,” he said on Tuesday evening.
Chepkosgei told the court that she was physically and biologically male, but she identifies herself as being female.
She has also participated in several athletic competitions outside the country as a female athlete.
Her real name was found to be Hillary Kiprotich.
In the impersonation case, the court heard that on June 14, Chepkosgei, going by the name Pamela Mulupi, was found working at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital’s Emergency unit, pretending to be a female nursing student.
Other nurses suspected she was an imposter and raised the alarm.
Initially, the chief Magistrate had directed the accused to be detained at the prison until June 24.
Following the return of the inmate to court on allegations of being a male and not a female as earlier on thought, the magistrate ordered police to detain the suspect at Eldoret West Police Station for 10 days pending investigations into the issue.
The matter will be mentioned on June 27.
Meanwhile, human right organisations from the North Rift have raised concerns over security of patients at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, following reports that Chepkosgei was charged with impersonating a nurse.
Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (CHRD) director Kipkorir Ng’etich said that the incident is a clear indication of serious security lapses at the hospital.
“It is scary for a facility like Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital to be ignorant about security of their patients to the extent that a stranger impersonates a nurse and serves in the hospital,” he said.
Mr Ng’etich demanded an explanation from the hospital management.
He added that there is a likelihood that similar incidents at the hospital have gone unreported.
Nick Mito, the director for Centre for Human Rights and Mitigation, said such incidents show how the rights of patient at the hospital are being violated.
The hospital’s chief executive Dr Wilson Aruasa declined to comment on the matter.