– Activist Boniface Mwangi this week posted a video on social media showing how he was arrested by the prison warders for failing to produce his ID and allegedly declining to give a bribe.
– According to the Kenya constitution not having an ID is not an offense and failure to produce it, is also not an offense. However everyday innocent Kenyans are harassed for failure to produce an ID. Prison warders’ core mandate is to guard prisoners but they are now patrolling Nairobi streets.
– The officers were also not amused after the activist demanded that they identify themselves first, leading to the arrest.
– Mr Robert Cheruiyot also had the jungle jacket he was wearing confiscated by the officers after he allegedly declined to bribe them.
– Mr Maurice Maina said he was accosted by the same officers along Moi Avenue who demanded a receipt for a computer motherboard he was carrying.
– We can only ask people to record video’s take pictures and other evidence against the culprits as they are no better than criminals dressed in fake uniforms.
Prison warders patrolling Nairobi streets have been accused of harassing and taking bribes from pedestrians who fail to produce their identity cards.
The officers who have been randomly asking for identification documents from city residents have also been accused of asking for bribes from those carrying laptops without purchase receipts.
Activist Boniface Mwangi this week posted a video on social media showing how he was arrested by the prison warders for failing to produce his ID and allegedly declining to give a bribe.
Mr Mwangi claimed that together with his friend, Marc Hoeferlin, they were accosted by the officers within the central business district and asked to produce their IDs.
“Prison warders are harassing people in Nairobi central business district asking for laptop receipts and if you’re carrying a shopping bag, they even demand a receipt; all this in an aim to get a bribe,” claimed Mr Mwangi.
“We had our documents in our pockets but it was the arrogance of the warders that made us insist that we wanted them to formally identify themselves before we could produce our IDs as any criminal can dress like and officer and carry a gun,” he said.
“Every day, innocent Kenyans are harassed for failure to produce an ID.
“Prison warders’ core mandate is to guard prisoners but they are now patrolling Nairobi streets,” he said.
This writer have experienced it on is own, where he was told to move on, but asked to give them 100 USD, as it was holiday season, in another incident engaged and married couples have been harassed on claims that their wife was a prostitute and selling herself while they are married, and they have asked for bribes again, but asking the woman if their foreign husband will make trouble over it or he would pay the bribe.
According to the activist, the two were handcuffed and taken to Central Police Station after they declined to give bribes but they were later released without charges.
The officers were also not amused after the activist demanded that they identify themselves first, leading to the arrest.
In the same video, another man identified as Mr Robert Cheruiyot also had the jungle jacket he was wearing confiscated by the officers after he allegedly declined to bribe them.
Mr Mwangi said that on their way back to the CBD, they encountered a group protesting the arrest of Mr Cheruiyot.
“We went and found the victim inside a banking hall where he had gone to withdraw some cash to bribe the warders so that he could have his jacket back,” Mr Mwangi narrated.
“We told him not to pay the bribe and at that point, the warder who was inside the bank with him walked out, joined his colleagues and took the man’s jacket to Central Police Station where we followed them and the guy got his jacket back with no charge filed against him”, he added.
When contacted for comment, National Police Service Spokesman George Kinoti said he was in a meeting but promised to get back to this writer but did not do so.
UNDER COMMAND OF POLICE IG
The Commissioner-General of Prisons Isaiah Osugo, while condemning any form of indiscipline among the prison officers, said the warders were now under the command of the Inspector-General of police and he therefore could not comment on the matter.
He however said he would follow up with IG Joseph Boinett to find out if there were any public complaints.
“The public should make official complaints to the police and if the officers are found culpable I am sure they will be disciplined,” he told Nation.co.ke by phone.
Several other Nairobi residents narrated how they have also fallen victim to the officers lamenting that the behaviour by the officers was limiting freedom of movement.
Mr Maurice Maina said he was accosted by the same officers along Moi Avenue who demanded a receipt for a computer motherboard he was carrying.
“My question (to the warders) was, if we all carry receipts of items we own and use on a daily basis, we’d require a file for that.
“The seemingly senior among them said I was rude and led me to a waiting car after I declined to bribe them.
“The attention I caused and a gathering crowd made them cower and leave hurriedly,” he added in a post on Facebook.
Bannett Mulira also shared his experience saying: “I have suffered it twice in town and because I argued and refused to pay a bribe, I was locked at Central and Kamukunji police stations.”
Hundreds of prison warders were in December 2014 deployed on the streets of Nairobi to conduct patrols alongside regular police in an effort to boost security.