Freed teacher hopes to turn over a new leaf after spending 15 years in jail

Renatus Lutta receiving a certificate after his release from Shikutsa Farm Prison, Kakamega. [Mary Imenza, Standard]

Renatus Lutta walked slowly towards the prison gate.

He fought back tears as he waved back at the prisoners he was leaving behind at Shikusa Prison.

A smiled played on his lips as he walked out of the prison gate, a place he had called home for the past 15 years.

The 59-year-old former teacher had been jailed for impregnating a minor.

Although unsure of what awaited him in the outside world, he was happy to be leaving prison.

As he walked to freedom, unsure of what the world holds for him, he held onto one thing -- hope.

“I'm holding on to the same hope that has seen me through jail,” he said.

The officer-in-charge at Shikusa Prison Samuel Chepkonga escorted Lutta to the gate where handed him certificates and some little cash. 

While in prison, he trained in carpentry and joinery, life skills, guiding and counseling as well as theology and anger management which were embedded on the certificates handed him by the in-charge.

Lutta remembers vividly events that led to his arrest and long stay in remand until June 2013 when he was sentenced by a Kimilili court, Bungoma.

“I was convicted in 2013, and sentenced for the lesser count of indecent assault, something that beat my soul to a pulp.  If I had not lusted at my own pupil, I would not have committed the offence, I was tempted and that’s why I got myself into trouble,” he says.

The father of eight stayed in remand for five years before the sentencing that saw him jailed at Bungoma GK Prison and later transferred to Kodiaga Maximum Prison in Kisumu.

In 2018, he was moved to Shikusa prison barely 50 kilometres from his Siangalambo rural village near Kimilili town in Bungoma County.

His first wife would frequent prison to see Lutta “but my last wife was not patient and decided to get married elsewhere.”

Before his imprisonment, he taught Mathematics, English and social studies at Kamkuywa Primaryrimary, Bungoma. He had successfully completed an English/Literature degree course at the University of Nairobi days before he was arrested.

“I regret everything I did then because it was my own mistakes that saw me waste my degree and life in prison although I am now reformed,” he told The Standard.

“It is regrettable that I lost my job and I am not eligible to teach or get employed in public service again even as I would have loved to go back to class and teach because I cherished the job,” he says.

With skills acquired while in prison, Lutta believes he can be useful in society and even entertains the prospect of being allowed to teach again.

"It pleases me that I walk out of prison a different person. I hope people will embrace me and create an enabling environment for me to pick up the pieces. I have children who look up to me,”  he says.

“I'm sorry for the offence but wouldn't wish to meet the girl I defiled, she could be happily married, and wish her well wherever she is.”

Lutta plans to train as a driver and venture into poultry farming so that he can fend for his family.

His last-born daughter is in Form One and the rest are pursuing higher education with the support of relatives and friends.

Benbella Oyalo of Freedom Evangelical Ministry is helping Lutta integrate into the community. 

“We bought him bedding, clothes and other basic items he would require to settle down as he opens a new chapter of his life,” Oyalo said.