Situation in Kenja’s prison

Linked with The Faraja Trust.

Published on Faraja Trust: 1. Releaser of Prison Work and 2. Innocents Behind Bars.

1. Releaser of Prison Work: There were 350 women packed together on only 1200 square metres in the Remand Section of Langata Women’s Prison, Nairobi. These facilities go back to the British colonial era of the 1950ies. They were dirty, stinking, dark, very cold in wintertime and unbearably hot in summer. Women were forced to spend more then 20 hours a day in these mass cells. Mattresses, on which always two prisoners have been lying, were riddled with bugs. The young and the old, the healthy and the sick, the guilty and the innocent people, most of them poor and uneducated, were squeezed together for months or even years, waiting to go to court. These were the conditions that I found there, when I came in 1999 as a pastor. A prison is not a hotel, they said. – But neither an inferno, so I thought. (Frater Peter Meienberg).

2. Three cases of Innocents Behind Bars:

  • Zippora’s Case: Zippora is one among lots, which are found to be not guilty after a long stay in Remand Prison and could leave death cell. Zippora does not understand the reason of her imprisonment. The well-educated, young lady got married to a man, who brought a child into marriage. On a trip the eight years old girl came down with malaria – the reason why Zippora gave the kid two pills. Arriving at the final destination, the stepmother realized that the body temperature went up and up, so she gave her child another two tablets. But the state of health was getting worse, so she brought it to hospital immediately. A quarter of an hour after the arrival the kid died in the clinic. Shortly after Zippora got arrested. A post mortem examination showed the reason of the death: an overdose of chinin. 20 months passed until Zippora was taken to court and finally accused of murdering her stepchild and therefore sentenced to death. Since that very moment she found herself at Langata Women’s Prison, where she was teaching different subjects to less educated inmates, up to her release.
  • Faith’s Case: The twenty year old Faith spent eighteen months in the Remand Section of Langata Women’s Prison, even though she was innocent. Her mother, who used to work as a prostitute, died young. Faith grew up as an orphan and was sent from one family member to another. She was treated inhumanly by taking her from school and abusing her as a maidservant. Finally Faith found a job in a beer hall in an urban slum. She got involved with a gang of youngsters, who violently took money from their clients. Faith was arrested by the police and was accused of robbery with violence, an offence punished by death. If it weren’t for a lawyer specialized in criminology, Faith would not have been set free in May 2007. Faraja organized and paid for the journey back home to Lake Victoria and reconciled her with her relatives.
  • Kamau’s Case: Kamau was forejudged in January 2005 for a crime, which he had not committed. But in spite of clear evidences and verdict of not guilty he was sent to Kamiti Medium Prison. In remand Kamau fall ill with tuberculosis. Fortunately he was allowed to be cured before the court hearing began. In prison Kamau met feared bands, that controlled deals of drugs, cigarettes, food and other things in the establishment. At the beginning he could avoid the crooks, but one day they mixed up his meal with drugs and raped him later on. In addition he knew after the traumatizing experience that he was infected with HIV. After a period marked by deep depressions, which culminated in a suicide attempt, he gathered all energy to get back to life. Kamau says that he feels to be new born as a Christ. He was in willingness to build him a new future perspective and took part in a computer course, offered by Faraja. Besides he began an information campaign for prisoners about the taboo topic HIV/Aids. Nowadays Kamau is set free, but his awareness campaigns are going on outside the prison walls. After the terrible terms in Kamiti Prison he is kinked but not broken, he says. He would like to start a new life and stand on his own feet again. And – according to him – Farajas computer training helps him a lot for the implementation of his ideas.

Link: about the short film: the Prison and the Priest, Peter Meienberger in Nairobi.

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