President Uhuru Kenyatta pardons 66 prisoners

President Uhuru Kenyatta meets the first batch of prisoners released under the presidential pardon when they called on him at State House, Nairobi

The quiet atmosphere at the Langata Women's Maximum prison is disturbed on a rainy evening by singing among the convicts and clapping by wardens and visitors.

Ten women walk towards the gate, accompanied by convicts who cheer them on as they make their way towards freedom on Saturday, thanks to presidential pardon.

Among them is 68-year-old Teresia Wanjiku who had been sentenced for life, and was serving her 24th year in prison.

Teresia's name was on the list of those who were pardoned after the prison administrators forwarded her name as one of the convicts who had shown exemplary behaviour at the correctional facility.

"I thank God... I am grateful," she kept saying over and over as she walked into the embrace of her daughter who was only five years old when her mother was put behind bars.

Teresia was serving a life sentence for murder after a body was found dumped inside a pit latrine in her compound.

Another freed convict was Caroline Shivinga, who was serving a five-year term in prison after she was found guilty of possessing fake currency.

She said she did something that caught President Uhuru's eyes, and saw her being pardoned.

"I danced during one of the events where Uhuru was, and he was so impressed that he ordered that I and some of the people who were in my prison dance team be released," she said before bursting into loud laughter.

The officer in charge of Langata Maximum Prison clarified that they were running a programme titled "Presidential Award Scheme" where young prisoners who are below 25 years old are identified, mentored, and equipped with skills that would enable them to cope after they have been released from prison.

It is through this programme that Caroline and other young convicts were recognised for their outstanding performances and exemplary behaviour and granted presidential pardon.

Rose Musyoka, who is also 24, was pardoned exactly two days before she completed her sentence that lasted 3 years and eight months.

One evening, she walked into her house in Dandora found her boyfriend in a compromising position. Blinded by anger, she says she took a metal rod and hit him on the head, leading to a raptured skull.

In an ironic twist, her best friend, who caused her imprisonment was one of the people who had come to receive her when she was being released.

Meanwhile, President Uhuru Kenyatta Sunday at State House in Nairobi met the first batch of prisoners released under the presidential pardon of mercy.

The President invoked the power of mercy and pardoned 66 prisoners as part of the 52nd Jamhuri Day celebrations Sunday.

Among the freed prisoners is Weru Murithi, who was the longest serving prisoner after 41 years in jail.

President Kenyatta urged them to stay away from the crimes that landed them in jail and instead put into practice the skills they learned while in prison to lead productive lives.

Prisons Commissioner General Isaiah Osugo and outgoing Interior Principal Secretary Monica Juma accompanied the pardoned prisoners.

The pardoned prisoners thanked the President for the act of mercy and assured him that they will become law-abiding citizens.