Security disputes missing pregnant woman claim - But family maintains assertion

BY: Dotsey Koblah Aklorbortu
Josephine Panyin Mensah
Josephine Panyin Mensah - Missing but found woman

The saga of the missing and now found 28-year-old pregnant woman in Takoradi has taken a bizarre twist, with the Western Regional Security Council (REGSEC) and the woman’s family set on a collision course.

While the REGSEC says its initial investigation indicates that the whole issue surrounding the woman, identified as Josephine Panyin Mensah, vis-a-vis her alleged pregnancy, kidnap and later being found without the pregnancy, may be a hoax, the family, on the other hand, insists the narration they have given of the incident is the truth and wondered how the authorities would want to aggravate the situation for an already traumatised woman and family.

The REGSEC, chaired by the Regional Minister, Mr Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah, has tasked the police investigative team to probe the issue further and come up with the truth.

A senior brother of Ms Mensah’s, Alex Essien, in an interview with the Daily Graphic, insisted that his sister was a known pregnant woman who attended antenatal clinic frequently and was almost due at the time of her kidnap.

Graphic’s follow up

Yesterday, the Daily Graphic followed up to the European Hospital where Ms Mensah had purportedly received her antenatal care.

While the management of the facility said it could not give information on a client publicly, a source close to the facility told the Daily Graphic that she had been to the hospital to receive treatment in the past year, but obviously not at the antenatal clinic.

“Yes, she was at the hospital to receive treatment at the Outpatients Department (OPD) on a number of occasions last year, the last time being in September 2020, but it was not at the antenatal clinic and she is not on the list of the hospital’s antenatal clients,” it said.

Incident

On September 16, the family reported that the heavily pregnant woman who was on her routine evening walk along the John Sarbah Road in the central business district of Takoradi had gone missing.

Later, her mother reportedly received a call from some alleged kidnappers who demanded a ransom for her release.

Last Tuesday, Ms Mensah was found at Axim, looking traumatised and unable to speak.

Even more troubling was the fact that she was without the pregnancy.

Ms Mensah, however, managed to communicate through writing and provided the contact of a family member, who was then called for verification.

Subsequently, the family dispatched a delegation to follow up and they confirmed she was the missing woman. She was subsequently taken to the Axim Hospital for treatment.

The saga

It was at that hospital, when she was being assessed, that the doctors who examined her indicated that there was no sign of she being pregnant or having delivered, as was being suggested, triggering the directive for a thorough investigation.

Speaking with the Daily Graphic, Mr Darko-Mensah said after physical and medical examination of the woman at the Axim Hospital, there were no traits of a woman who had just delivered.

A scan by the medical team at the Axim Hospital, he said, showed the woman was never pregnant — there was no sign of lochia, a discharge like menstruation from new mothers, neither were there the visible sign of the fullness and tenderness of the breast, the stretch marks on the stomach and its size — the usual post-natal signs on a woman who had been delivered of a baby within a few weeks.

The minister further indicated that following the initial report from the Axim Hospital, he had directed the police to carry out a full investigation into the case to establish the actual details of the incident.

Takoradi is safe

Asked why the directive, Mr Darko-Mensah explained that due to the unfortunate image being created that Sekondi-Takoradi was not a safe place for business, the REGSEC had had to act decisively to deal with the issue.

He maintained that coming almost after the tragic incident of the four missing girls who were later found dead, the latest incident of the woman being kidnaped with her pregnancy had become a national issue and would not be overlooked.

“We have to make sure that the incident is fully investigated, and if it turns out to be false, we clear the image of Takoradi and the law takes its course.

“Let me assure the citizenry that Takoradi is safe, and that the police will investigate and ensure that the truth is unearthed,” Mr Darko-Mensah.

He said a team of investigators from the Western Region and the National Police Headquarters is looking through files at the European Hospital where Ms Mensah claimed she attended her antenatal clinic to see if there were records on her from the inception of her pregnancy.

Community

When the Daily Graphic team visited the community where the mother lives along the John Sarbah Road, some of her family members were hostile and refused to talk.

One woman was seen visibly agitated and talking at the top of her voice, insisting that Ms Mensah had been pregnant.

Although she lived with her husband, Ms Mensah had reportedly moved in to live with that woman for her safety and to be able to easily access help when she went into labour, as her husband was hardly at home due to the nature of his work.

“The doctor who examined her and said she was not pregnant needs to be examined herself too. How can someone whose pregnancy was showing now be said not to be pregnant?” the family member said and walked away, refusing to answer any further questions.

Some residents of the community who know her told the Daily Graphic that she was always seen with a large tummy, a visible sign of pregnancy, and so they were surprised that the pregnancy was said to be fake.

Ms Mensah has, meanwhile, been discharged from the Axim Hospital and sent to Takoradi for another medical examination for a second opinion, the Daily Graphic has been told.

She remains under police guard and it was unclear if she had been reunited with her family as of the time of filing the story.