Sirisia Member of Parliament (MP) John Waluke has recounted how his four months in Kamiti Maximum GK Prison were.
On June 25, Waluke was thrown behind bars for seven decades over Ksh297 million corruption.
“Being jailed for 74 years shocked me, for sure. And, because the matter had been ruled upon [by a court of law], there was no other choice for me but to begin serving time in jail,” the lawmaker, who is out on Ksh10 million cash bail after filing an appeal against his sentencing, told Citizen Television on Friday, October 2.
“The four months I have spent in jail have been difficult. I lost my freedom and a sense of normal living; everything, including the [type of] food I was taking had changed. There is [usually] very little one can do within the prison compound, which is very small [in size],” he said, adding: “It took me at least three weeks to adjust to life in prison.”
The legislator said unlike in the civil world where he would be surrounded by people most times due to the nature of his job as a politician, in jail, he was a lone bird.
“I spent most times seated alone without interacting with the other inmates,” he said.
His mheshimiwa tag, he says, was abandoned the moment he stepped into the gates of Kamiti, and all privileges that come with his position were now a thing of the past.
“Regardless of one’s social status, the meal being served across the board is of the same quality. There is no food from outside that is allowed into the facility,” he said, adding: “In jail, we took lunch at 10am and supper at 2pm.”
From 2pm, an inmate is locked up until 6am, when he is released to take breakfast, which is a cup of porridge, Waluke said.
“I found the meals quite interesting. For example, during lunch one would take a whole leaf of boiled Sukuma wiki immersed in so much watery soup. I would say that that meal is just cooked water, which we took with Ugali. And, because one is jailed, there is nothing much he can do about the meal. I did not get preferential treatment from the cooks.”
The reality of hardship in jail struck Waluke harder when nights fell, and it was time to sleep.
“Several prisoners sleep together in one room,” he said.
“So, all inmates sleep while facing one direction. Later in the night, they are woken up to change sleeping positions and face the other direction. There is a popular inmate known as Governor who alerts the sleeping prisoners to change sleeping positions. Should you wake up in the middle of the night to visit the toilet, you won’t find any sleeping space for you when you return. You will, consequently, have to stand until morning,” said Waluke.
“There are around 3,000 inmates in Kamiti against a mattress population of 200. So, if you find even a small piece of mattress, you appreciate; so long as you catch some sleep without pressing your ribs against the concrete floor.”
The Member of Parliament said jail, and not Ksh1 billion fine, was the only punishment option for him because “honestly, I couldn’t raise Ksh1 billion regardless how much I tried”.
The lawmaker said despite being thrown behind bars over an economic crime, he wasn’t tormented by his fellow inmates.
“There is no prisoner who disrespected me or called me names; they were just calling me mheshimiwa,” said the Sirisia representative to the National Assembly, adding: “Being imprisoned is not a good thing, at all; that is what I have learnt. I urge Kenyans to avoid committing crimes that would land them in jail.”