Robert Wanyonyi, a Kenyan reporter working for Kenya Television Network (KTN), received death threats twice this week following his coverage of a woman giving birth on a dirty floor, with nurses following her and even slapping her, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reports.
The Bungoma District Hospital, where the incident took place; is located in the western Kenyan town of Bungoma.
“She delivered on the floor, a dirty floor and even had to walk, carrying her baby to another ward,” Wanyoni told CPJ, adding that he received an anonymous call the same day warning him to vacate the town or “risk being sent to the grave”.
At 5 am the next morning, he received a similar threat, and reported the case to the police.
The town’s Criminal Investigations Department said it was investigating the death threats, and would attempt to track the anonymous caller through local cell phone networks.
Wanyonyi said the hospital’s superintendent, Dr Mulianga Egesa, refused to comment on the story, and denied the allegations.
The reporter told CPJ that since the report aired, he has received at least 25 messages from citizens complaining of negligence at the hospital.
“Critical journalists such as Robert Wanyonyi serve an important function by exposing gaps in the practice of medicine and in other public services,” CPJ East Africa consultant Tom Rhodes said. “Authorities must go beyond rhetoric and ensure that Wanyoni is safe, as well as holding those responsible for the threats to account.”
Four nurses at that hospital allegedly involved in the case have since been suspended, CPJ reports. But the hospital superintendent accused Wanyonyi of focusing too much on negative reporting, adding that he will deal with him personally.
The incident triggered the ban of cellphones within the wards.
Photo: A hospital in Kenya. Most hospitals and meternity wards in Africa are described as ‘platforms of deaths’ due to their appalling conditions