My ten years in prison for a kiss that never was.

16 Jul

The following is an exclusive interview I had posted on this blog sometimes this year.  Issac; a matatu tout; was sentenced to ten years inside kamiti maximum security prison for a crime that he still maintains was fabricated.

 { I could not afford a lawyer and not even with the help of my family; I was the only member of our immediate family who was probably working. I was confident there was no way I could be jailed for a fabricated charge. I had not assaulted anybody that is why I denied the charges.} says Isaac.


Hello Isaac; I can see you are back in the matatu industry?

Isaac:- Hello Wambururu, yes I’m back; but believe me; this is the last thing I wanted to do. I did not have much choice. Life must go on and there are bills to pay.

You spent ten years in prison?

Not exactly; but yes I was sentenced to ten years with hard labor at Kamiti maximum prison. Some years were knocked out according to prisons procedures.

Tell us, what happened on that day you were said to have kissed the girl?

I remember very well everything that happened that day. It was on a Sunday and I was at Rongai main stage where I used to work as a tout. I saw the girl in question in the morning as she was going to church and waved for her and her friends. later that afternoon, I saw her again at the parking inside a green off-road vehicle; it was parked near hardy supermarket; She was alone in the car and we started talking, A man abt 40yrs, came from the supermarket carrying two paper bags and entered the car; he did not look very pleased about me talking to the girl as he did not even say hi; he drove off and I returned to my corner. I noticed he was talking harshly to her but I could not hear the conversation.

Did you and the girl know each other previous to that incident with her father?

The girl was a good friend of mine for sometimes; she would stop-by every now and then and I would escort her for lunch. We did not have a sexual relationship but I had known her since she was in primary school. I also knew her parents. I had known the family for more than five years.

How did you end up in custody?

I was arrested on Monday around 10am; I thought it was the normal crack-down on makangas as was common during those times. I was taken to Rongai police station and locked in a cell without being told the reason for my arrest. I was later called to the crime office and my fingerprints taken. I protested but i was beaten and  thrown back to the cell. I was called the following morning as I was being taken to court; that is when I was told that I was being charged with Indecent Assault. I did not understand what that meant.

Were you surprised when the charges were read?

It was a big shock; the prosecutor translated the charge in Kiswahili and I could not believe what he was saying. There was no way I could have done that in public. My relationship with the girl was more of a big brother; like it was with other students. No touching was involved.

Did you hire a lawyer to represent you after you realized the weight of the charges you were facing?

I could not afford a lawyer and not even with the help of my family; I was the only member of our immediate family who was probably working. I was confident there was no way I could be jailed for a fabricated charge. I had not assaulted anybody that is why I denied the charges. I was not even thinking about a bond. I was sure I would be home in a few days.

You went to remand anyway; was this your first time in prison?

Prison was a new experience to me; I have been arrested a number of time in my job as a tout but I had never gone beyond the police station. I had only heard stories about prison but I had never been jailed. The nights would never end and as soon as it was morning, I would be praying for night to come fast.

How long did you stay at the remand?

I was at Kamiti maximum prison remand for five months. I was arrested on 10th of August and sentenced on 19th of January. I returned to the same prison to serve the sentence.

The magistrate found you guilty and sentenced you to ten years in prison with hard labor; how did that make you feel?

I was in shock; I guess I lost conscious immediately. Inmates later told me that I had lost my mind for about a week. I would wake up in the morning and stand in one corner until the afternoon roll-call. I did not make any friends the whole of that year. I started socializing the second year and joined the football team. I loved playing soccer; it was my favorite sport.

Do you think your involvement with the matatu industry played any part in the manner that your case was handled?

There is no question about that; my being a makanga was the cause of all that happen. Makangas are generally despised and again; the school’s principal was also the pastor at the church where the students went for Sunday service. Imagining that there was something about me and her daughter was more than he could stomach. They brought two form one students from the school to testify and give false witness. The girl I was accused to have kissed never came to court at anytime during the whole trial although I was still found guilty. One of the witnesses said I had also kissed her sometimes back. I think they were coached what to say. I remember one of the girls said she recognized me because I had a bald head and the other witness said I was wearing a woolen muffin when i kissed their classmate. There were several complications with the case; that was why I never thought I would be found guilty.

You appealed and the court gave your case another hearing; what was different about the proceedings?

What surprised me about the court of appeal was that; i was not to be allowed to give evidence or call my witnesses. The court was only to look at how the case was handled by the first magistrate. If I had known I could not have wasted time appealing.

It was reported in the daily papers that the court of appeal found you guilty and did not make change to the earlier sentence; did that mean you were guilty?

I was hoping for the truth to come out but I was not expecting much from the appeal court; when the court of appeal Judge Onesmas Mutungi read his verdict; it was more of what had happened in the lower court. He told me I had no reason to appeal as the maximum sentence for indecent assault is 21yrs and the magistrate had only given me ten years.

You went back to prison that day knowing you would be there for another eight years. How did you react to that?

I had sensed from the beginning that I was not going to be released. My case had attracted a lot of media attention and a number of journalists had come to visit me at Kamiti prison. There was no way one judge would find fault with another judge in favor of a makanga. Fellow prisoners and even prison wardens had reminded me about that so many times. They were expecting me in the bus that evening.

Ten years is a very long time to be held at one place; what were you doing with your time in prison?

Immediately I went back to Kamiti maximum prison after my appeal was dismissed; I joined the carpentry department of the prison and started learning skills in furniture making. I did my grade 3 in the first year and completed. I did grade 2 the following year. I could not proceed with top grade 1 as my health was failing and the dust at the workshop was becoming a problem.

Did you think about the reason you were in prison?

The only time I did not think about it was probably when I was asleep. I could not believe I was in prison for something I did not do. But after four years- I had forgotten and forgiven those who had put me there. I started believing that God had a good reason to put me there. I left the matter in His hands and concentrated with my football game.

Did anything happen to you while at Kamiti prison?

If you mean whether I was raped; the answer is no. Nothing major happened to me during my many years behind bars. I might have gotten in a fight a few times but that is normal in any prison. Many prisoners would come and go and others would be brought back and found me there. There was not a single day that I felt like prison was my home. I was longing to go home and get a good night sleep.

After your release, where did you go and what was the reaction of the people you found?

I went straight home, my mother had not been feeling well for a couple of years and I had not seen her for a long time. When I arrived home; I found they had prepared a homecoming party for me. That was very touching. Most of my relatives had been following the case and knew I was innocent. They were happy to have me back.

Did you put to use the skills you learned in prison after your release?

I left prison with nothing to show for the time I had spent there; even my grades and certificates were confiscated by the authority. I had nothing to proof my skills. The fact that I had been in prison for such a long period scared any possible would-be employer.

Why did you decide to come back to the matatu industry?

I stayed at the village for one whole year; when I saw there was no hope for me ever getting enough capital to open my work-shop, I decided to come to the city and look for employment. My dream was to save some money and buy a few tools to get me started. Matatu industry was the only employment I could think of; since most of the workers there know me and they know I was framed.

Do you still dream of becoming a fulltime carpenter?

Yes, very very much. This is the only thing that can make me feel like I did not waste the years I was in prison. The skills I acquired so painfully should pay my bills. I know I’m as good as they come and I can be able to produce products of high quality; but I still need to overcome this first stage.

Didn’t the prison authority put you in any program to help you fit back with the society; after your release?

The last time I talked to anybody from the prison was the warden who checked my release papers before he opened the gate. I just wished they could have paid me for all the work I had done for the Government.

What is your philosophy in life?

Everything happens for a reason/ everything has a purpose.

Have you ever met the girl or any of her relatives since you left prison?

No; I don’t even think I would want to meet any of them. They know what they did and I did my time for that; but that is now in the past, life must go on. I forgave them and moved on. There is God in heaven and He holds everyone responsible for their actions. I have this firm believe that God wanted to rescue me from something that would probably have been worse.

Do you have a family; wife, kids or a girlfriend somewhere?

No, not yet. I was arrested when I was just about to settle down with my girlfriend but the time I was behind bars was too long for her to wait for me. She visited me the first two years but stopped coming after the appeal was dismissed. I’m praying to God to give me a woman I can share my life with.

Do you see your past affecting your chances of finding a girl willing to be your wife?

I have never been a sex offender and never will be. That is why I said I’m praying to God; I know there is somebody out there for me; I only need to look deeper.

Where do you see yourself in the next ten years?

It’s hard to tell right now but I can only hope I will be an established carpenter owning my own work-shop and helping those who are released from prison find footing in the society. There are so many innocent people doing time in prison; I would love to be there for them when they come out. I was probably lucky that people knew about my case and the people in the matatu industry welcomed me back whole heartedly; it is not the same with majority as the society don’t understand that they might been very good citizens tagged with the wrong identity.

What would you tell any young man having a relationship with a student?

Be very afraid. The girl may appear mature and even talk like an adult but she cannot stand by you; incase a question is asked. She is still a child under the care of the parents. The girl in this particular case could have cleared the air but she could not go against her parents. I did not commit the crime I was jailed for; but let it be for example to everyone out-there. This is how the law might turn your world upside down. Being guilty or not cannot stop you from going to prison for a very long time.

What would you like to tell Kenyans and anybody who hears or knows about what happened to you?

What goes around comes around- Don’t allow class or wealth to define you. What you do to another man will be done to one of your own before the end of the world. Justice may be blind; but Jah see and know.


Posted by on July 16, 2012 in Its life, Matatu matters


Tags: ,

18 responses to “My ten years in prison for a kiss that never was.

  1. Mugure

    March 22, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    Wow!!! I don’t even know what to say to this!!! It is disheartening, to say the least, that such injustices still happen in Kenya!!! My heart goes out to you Karanja!!! As you said, God had a reason for pulling you out of where you were at the time; it could have been to save you from worse disaster than prison!!! I totally agree that what goes around comes around!!! The Bible calls us to pray for our enemies and this will be like piling hot coal on their heads for God’s wrath. There is absolutely no way at all you can get your certificates???? That is insane!!! Someone out there with a law degree…… would you please help this gentleman?????-Hey, I see you owning your own business and doing community service for those that have gone through the same!!! Have faith Karanja, God is able to do immeasurably more than we can ever think of or imagine!!!!!

  2. Mkenya

    May 5, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    This is very interesting, and very real. Justice kenyan style with a perfectly corrupt judiciary.

    This story needs to be given a broader audience

  3. wambururu

    May 6, 2012 at 8:51 am

    Thank you for saying that; I have done what i could, perhaps you can take it a step further. we need each other. positive vibes. welcome.

  4. Ruby

    May 14, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    touching story and a lesson to learn. poor guy! but frankly speaking i believe
    God was protecting him from worst harm.
    What goes around comes around…watch out pple

    • wambururu

      May 16, 2012 at 11:10 am

      Thanks Ruby; I’m happy that he also thinks the same. He is doing okay in terms of socialising I guess he can put himself together and make his dreams come true. I wish him all the best.

      • Luttz

        July 20, 2012 at 7:53 pm

        Very touching story! Nobody wants to be a makanga. We should never judge people by what they do to pay bills.

  5. odusola

    July 29, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Well thanking God that you came out alive. But my phylosophy of life is ‘” anything that happens to man happened to him for his own good” let God judge the matter

    • wambururu

      July 30, 2012 at 5:10 pm

      You said Right; let God Judge the matter and forgive those responsible. Instead of paying them the price they deserve for what they did, let pray that He forgives them so that they can know what forgiveness really means.

  6. naomi

    August 19, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    I salute your positive attitude and that you are not a bitter man. Sell your business idea to finance institution- eg equity- they have micro credits products that may kick start your business. – know how much the tools you need require, etc then approach them. all the best and as they say, mwana we kio ndagaga muthambia

    • wambururu

      August 20, 2012 at 6:03 am

      Thanks Naomi, That is very Positive; I will explore that avenue and see how the financial institutions can help. Thank you so much.

  7. mama watoto

    September 6, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    How much are the tools?? How much does he need to start the business?? Indeed…things happen for a reason. Be strong young man, lift your head high and believe there is God.

  8. ictville

    October 11, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    Issac Mungu na Akuonekanie boss that was bad!. May Jah lay red roses in your next journey path and those who did you wrong face the wrath of shame and defeat. God Bless for sharing this story. Wishing you success.

  9. palma

    July 10, 2013 at 10:17 am

    its disheartening to see that such a young life was destroyed by innocent years served in jail. atleast he got out alive and well and as he said, the world is roiund. some day this same experience could befall the family that accussed him. God has his ways of working through. take heart!
    a great story and eye-opener

  10. antony

    February 26, 2014 at 11:51 pm


  11. Alex

    November 14, 2014 at 11:35 am

    Pole brother for what happened to you.Glory be to God that you are alive and soon surely God will open for you doors.

  12. Kenince E'm

    November 18, 2014 at 6:58 am

    Hey Wambururu, what become of Karanja? Can you do a follow up and update us?


  13. kinuthia

    March 19, 2015 at 4:50 pm

    hi.quite touching. I take up the task of puttin u n ua nids before He who lives that he sees u through.

  14. Unik-Kenya

    January 2, 2016 at 9:35 pm

    Thank you for sharing, its such a sad story.
    But all in all, he has overcome all, God is gracious.


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