The board members were at the penal institution to inspect a bar, only to be met by the wrath of the authorities.
Members of a liquor licensing committee yesterday found themselves in trouble when they went to inspect a bar at the Manyani Maximum Security Prison.
The nine Voi Sub-county Liquor Licensing Board members were detained in the prison located on the Nairobi-Mombasa highway and later kicked out for alleged trespass.
The nine, who included public health officials, a police inspector and civilians, claimed they were roughed up and held hostage by prison warders before they were kicked out of the facility.
“The officers told us they were acting on instructions from above not to allow us to inspect the facility,” one board official told The Standard.
Led by the team's vice chairperson Fatuma Mwamburi and area public health officer Juma Suleiman, they said they wanted to know if the facility had a licence and a single-business permit to operate a bar.
They also wanted to know whether workers in the bar had medical certificates as required by law.
“The authority is also selling cheap liquor at the facility, which is in total disregard of the liquor laws,” claimed Rev Scaver Nzai.
But South Coast Region Deputy Prisons Commander Nicholas Maswai denied claims that the prison facility had a bar.
“What we are operating is a senior prison officers' mess and not a bar as claimed by the liquor licensing court,” said Mr Maswai, who is also the county prisons commander.
He said the officials entered the security facility without authority.
“The officials entered the facility and went straight to the officers' mess. We intervened when we learnt that the officials were harassing inmates cleaning the mess,” he said.
Maswai said prison warders were angered by reports that they wanted to arrest prison officers and prosecute them for operating a bar without a licence.
“The officials did not even have an appointment to inspect the facility in the first place,” he noted. “We have been restricting visitors because we hold hardcore criminals here.”