David Macharia jailed for a crime he did not commit

David Macharia jailed for seven years after buying a second hand mobile phone from a friend

NAIROBI, KENYA: David Macharia was jailed for a crime he did not commit. He tells Kelvin Kamau about battling depression behind bars, his wife’s death and being a pastor.

Can you remember in detail that day you were arrested by cops?

It was in February 2008. I was in Githurai. I remember I was elated since I had been paid for some job I had done. I had planned to buy a phone. As I was window shopping, I bumped into my friend. After a bit of chit chat, he offered to sell me a phone that he wasn’t using. Since it was a cheaper deal, I went for it. A few hours later, I heard cops outside my house. They demanded I surrender an Ak 47 rifle.

I was confused. I didn’t know what was happening. They claimed that my phone had been tracked. Apparently, the phone had been stolen and the owner murdered. I tried explaining to them that I had bought the phone from a friend, but they didn’t want to listen. Iwas arrested and charged with the murder.

So, just like that you were arrested and detained?

Yes. The first days in prison were difficult. I was bullied which led to depression. I was worried sick about my family and didn’t know how they were going to survive. We were expecting our first child. In prison,  I became a rebel and often times, I would fight with my fellow inmates. I was under so much stress.

You wife passed away while in prison, do you ever blame yourself?

 I felt helpless and questioned God why he was punishing me for something that I didn’t do.  You see, during her pregnancy, we discovered she was HIV positive, but I was negative. She confessed to having cheated on me. Although she cheated on me and never visited me in prison, I felt sorry for her and I still loved her. She died four months to my release. I had met her in Thika in a kiosk and we relocated to Nairobi where we started a family together.

Tell us more about your release? 

  I was detained at Industrial area prison for seven good years but after a tedious judicial process I was released after the court found no evidence. I was released in October 2014. While in prison, Iused to counsel inmates who were facing challenges like depression and loneliness. During the time when I was a remandee, I graduated with a Diploma in Theology from Presbyterian Church of East Africa.

How easy was it to be accepted back to the society after serving seven years?

 I remember very well there was a time I gave my testimony in church. One of the church administrators accused me of stealing a keyboard.I was really hurt.   Stigmatisation is a big blow to ex-convicts because the society still judges you. Every Sunday, I go to prison to preach and give the inmates hope. Majority of them are there for crimes they didn’t commit.

Did you re-marry?

Yes I have a wife and three children. I’m happy that she never judged me but loved me for who I am.