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Mother of two picks up pieces after five years in jail

Rift Valley

Despite staying in prison for almost five years, Esther Wangui never got used to the environment and admits that prison life is tough and wouldn’t wish that life on anyone. [Mercy Kahenda, Standard]

Esther Wangui, 33, has had a few weeks to reflect on her new life and pick up pieces after being released from prison where she served five years.

When Wangui stepped out of a Nakuru GK Prison’s bus on December 23, 2022, she took in the warm Wanyororo air and freedom was upon her at last.

The mother of two was convicted in 2018 for aiding a gang rape offence.

However, the remorseful woman was welcomed by her grandmother, her husband John Maina, her mother-in-law, sisters and cheerful neighbors.

The ceremony was so epic that it was graced by Nakuru Chief Magistrate Edna Nyaloti, the officer in charge of women’s prison Mary Muhoro and probation officers.

Speaking to The Standard then, she said she was very happy and could not explain her joy.

“I was an outcast when I was convicted and no one wanted me. But now I feel the love from my family and neighbours,” Wangui said.

Two weeks have passed now since then and Wangui still feels the love from her husband, friends and neighbours.

She says the support from her husband will be key to changing her life for the better in the coming years.

“After the celebrations of the Christmas holidays, I am now planning to start a new life with my husband and children,” she says.

She dreams of becoming the best hairdresser in Nakuru City and is proud that she learnt the skills while serving her term in prison.

With the support from the judiciary, friends and family, Wangui hopes to open up a salon and believes her skills will not only keep her from crime, but change their lives.

Wangui was admitted to the prison on July 23, 2018 as a remandee after denying a gang rape offence and failing to raise a Sh200,000 bond.

She stayed in remand for 13 months and on August 23, 2019 she was jailed for five years.

Despite staying in prison for almost five years, Wangui never got used to the environment and admits that prison life is tough and wouldn’t wish that life on anyone.

“It was tough to be away from my husband and my two children aged 13 and 10. For and I prayed that they accept me back,” she says.

Wangui was lucky because her husband and children waited for her. She says Maina visited her twice every month and ensured she lacked nothing.

While in prison, Wangui learnt that not everyone can reform. She says she met violent women and sometimes it was tough to survive.

“When I joined prison I was angry and I didn’t accept my situation. However, with time I accepted my mistakes. I decided to reform and in 2019 I got baptized,” she says.

In prison, she says she also learnt dress-making skills.

She advises Kenyans to stay away from crime and choose friends wisely, noting that it was her ride-or-die friend that misled her to commit the crime.

Wangui also urges families and friends of those in prison to accept them when released.

Wangui’s husband Maina says he had tough years raising their children while waiting for her to return home. He says he was at times tempted to remarry.

“Not many husbands can wait for their convicted wives but God gave me strength amid temptations. It is now time to start a new life together,” he says.

Wangui’s mother-in-law Hannah Wambui, says she knew Wangui was a good person for her and for her son Maina.

“I visited her in prison and I also advised my son not to remarry,” she says.

Assistant Chief Wanyororo Sub location Joseph Macharia says villagers have been visiting her to prove they have accepted her back in the society.

According to Ms Muhoro, due to her good character, Wangui was made in charge of other inmates and was also released 20 months earlier.

“The entire prison department is happy that we released a resourceful person to the community. We kindly urge the community to help her,” she says.

Ms Nyaloti insists that prison is a correctional centre and not a punishment facility noting that Wangui went through a complete reformation programme.

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