Prisoners taste freedom following Uhuru pardon

By Brigid Chemweno | Oct 21, 2016
Some prisoners await release after they were freed on presidential pardon at Nairobi West Prison. They are among over 7,000 beneficiaries of the Mashujaa Day presidential pardon. [Photo: Jenipher Wachie/Standard]

He tightly held a brown envelope in his right hand as his fellow inmates from inside prison cells peeped in awe to catch a glimpse of what was happening.

Koigi Mukia, 29, who spent five years behind bars in Nairobi West Prison, was now a free man.

Muika, who was jailed on forgery charges, said his trust in God made him endure life in prison.

He is among 176 prisoners who were released from Nairobi West Prison following a presidential pardon.

"I did not believe it when I was informed about my release. I will believe it when I get out of the prison's main gate. I had four days left to finish my term here but my prayer to God was to leave earlier," he said shortly before his release.

He recalled vividly the events which landed him in prison: "I was a clerk at a primary school in Mwingi where I was accused of forging a cheque. Life took an unexpected twist when I was convicted with forgery and sent to serve a five-year term in prison. I prayed God because life in prison is not a walk in the park."

Before he was sentenced, Mukia had begun plans to marry his sweetheart.

 "I was planning to marry when I was arrested. I never thought the case will land me in prison, but when I was convicted, I informed my girlfriend about it. I begged her to wait but she was reluctant. I later learnt she married another man," he said.

Acquired skills

However, Mukia has acquired skills which would make him self-reliant in the society.

"I have learned skills such as entrepreneurship, first aid and computer skills. I had done my diploma in mechanics before I landed in prison and I believe the additional skills will make me a better person in the society.

For Jacob Ndwaru, who was serving two years for malicious damage, alcohol addiction is what he blamed for his deeds.

Ndwaru, 35, has a degree in Computer Science. He says he was arrested and sentenced after smashing the windows of his mother's house while he was drunk.

But life in prison has taught him a lifetime lesson. He says: "I will never touch alcohol again in my life. Parental programmes in prison have made me a reformed person and I have prepared a business plan so that when I get out of this place, I will be able to look for funds and open my own cyber cafe."

Uhuru Thursday during Mashujaa Day celebrations in Machakos, ordered the release of 7,000 offenders who were about to clear their terms to "open space for big corrupt government officers".

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