Sharon Mathias and Melon Lutenyo
They say the want the girls to remain together but don’t know how
The two identical twins and their ‘sister’ have warned their parents against separating them, presenting a big dilemma to the two families.
According to their mothers, the three said any attempt to separate the trio will force them to disappear, never to be found again.
“The girls have told us they do not want to be separated. They see each other as sisters and we have decided to respect their wishes,” said one of the mothers, Rosemary Khaveleli.
DNA results released on Saturday showed that two 19-year-old girls, Sharon and Melon, were identical twins who had been switched at birth at Kakamega General hospital in 1999.
Khaveleli delivered two children but one of the twins, Sharon, was switched with another child, Mevis Imbaya.
Imbaya was born to Angeline Omina. As a result of the ‘mixup’ Sharon was raised by Omina in Kangemi while Mevis was raised by Khaveleli in Lugari district, Kakamega county.
The DNA results results have caused confusion and agony to the two mothers. The situation of the two families is further complicated by the fact that the two women have been separated from their husbands for more than seven years.
“We are confused and disoriented. We do not know how best to handle this situation,” Omina said.
Kakamega General Hospital has found records of the two births and has launched an investigation to establish if there was any wrongdoing, deliberate switching or incompetence.
Yesterday, the two women spent most of their day in Omina’s two-room mabati house in Kangemi, Nairobi, as they discussed their next course of action.
Journalists camped outside the house hoping to get exclusive interviews with the two mothers. The three girls were somewhere in Ruai with other relatives as the parents shielded them from the media spotlight.
The two mothers told reporters they were shocked and bewildered by the DNA results. When she first learnt of the mix-up Khaveleli, a mother of eight, got angry with Omina whom she accused of stealing her baby.
“I even accused her (Omina’s) family of stealing my child at the hospital [when the news surfaced]. In fact, Omina and my estranged husband are not even on speaking terms right now,” she said.
But now the girls have brought us together, she said. The puzzle surrounding the twins surfaced in April when Khaveleli’s husband Richard Olukhaka spotted Sharon Mathias in Kakamega town and mistook her for one of his twins.
Melon Lutenyo, one of the twins, would later connect with Sharon on Facebook and the two developed a friendship.
All along, he had raised Melon and Mevis Imbaya as his fraternal twins, who didn’t resemble each other.
However, DNA tests showed that Sharon and Melon were his twins while Mevis belonged to Omina.
Sharon has been raised by Omina. For her part, Omina said though the results have shown Sharon is not her biological daughter, she would not be willing to release her to another family “because we have bonded so much”.
The three girls are living with a relative in Nairobi’s Ruai area and “we are happy with the results,” she said.
Omina said taking any action as a result of the test results would disorient the three girls at a time they are required to concentrate on their studies as they are Form 4 candidates. Sharon studies at Shikoti Girls High School and Melon at Kongoni Secondary School, both in Kakamega county. Mevis studies at Kimosong’ Girls High School in Trans Nzoia county.
Asked about the role of the fathers in shaping the lives of the girls moving forward, the women said both of them have marital problems with their husbands so their input is likely to be minimal.
Khaveleli said she separated from her husband Olukhaka seven years ago and he has had no significant impact on the lives of her children.
Omina said more or less the same about her husband Wilson Lutah, saying they separated many months ago. “We will just hear what they’ve got to say in the wake of the developments but our decision will prevail,” she said.
She repeated their desire to have the teenagers stay together. The fathers will, however, be involved in solving the impasse between the two families. Asked how practical this would be, Khaveleli said, “This is the confusing part. We even wish the government would help us in this regard because it was a mixup at the hospital.”
Omina said they wished their families could stay together so the girls can remain together to preserve the bond between them. Asked how they have been coping with the media coverage, the mothers said the media have helped highlight the issue. This enabled them to get free DNA tests to determine their blood relationship.
They complained, however, that too much coverage had put them and the girls under too much pressure and exposed them to curiosity.
Khaveleli delivered Mevis and Melon at Kakamega General hospital in 1999 through Cesarean section. It had been reported that an earlier scan showed that she was pregnant with triplets, an assertion that she rejected.
“I was pregnant with twins and not triplets. I suspect there was a mistake at the hospital that led to the switching of children.”