NAIROBI, November 20 – Seven officers at Kamiti Maximum Prison including the officer in charge Joseph Ngaira Mutevesi have been sent on compulsory leave.
Mr Mutevesi, Chief Security Officer Stephen Kiplagat and five other prison officers were sent packing on Thursday over the alleged torture-to-death of an inmate on Monday night.
The five prison officers are believed to have participated in the night operation to rid off mobile phones from the death row inmates.
Prisons Public Relations Officer Dickson Mwakazi said the decision had been reached to have the officers out of work to pave way for investigations.
“The two senior officers have been sent on compulsory leave while the five prison warders have been interdicted,” he said in a statement.
Mr Mutevesi and Mr Kiplagat are being investigated to establish if they authorised the alleged brutal force on the inmates leading to the death of one of them and injuries to seven others who were scalded by hot water during the night operation.
Commissioner of Prisons Isaiah Osugo said the five prison officers had been interdicted after being identified as having participated in the brutal raid that was also captured on video.
Horrifying video images were shown on local television screens on Tuesday night showing warders stripping and beating inmates during a search for illegally held mobile phones.
The images were captured by a hawk-eyed death row inmate via his mobile phone which he also used to circulate to journalists through multi-media features.
The mobile phone has since been recovered from him during a visit by Mr Osugo on Wednesday.
“We have recovered the mobile phone that was used to send the video clips,” Mr Osugo said.
The government moved with speed on Wednesday to investigate the alleged torture-to-death of the condemned prisoner following outcry from leaders and members of the public.
Mr Osugo and a team of CID officers accompanied by human rights activists spent the better part of Wednesday and Thursday interrogating death row inmates on circumstances that led to their colleague’s death.
“I am equally disturbed by the images shown on television. I have instituted investigations to establish the true position on this matter because I am receiving many contradicting reports,” Mr Osugo said.
He said he had allowed CID officers from the Kasarani police division to interview inmates at all the cells housing death row inmates and warders who were on duty at the time.
“We have nothing to hide. The police are carrying out their investigations and we have even allowed human rights activists access to the facility. We want the truth to come out,” he said and revealed that at least six warders had recorded statements with the police.
“Although I support the operation, the manner in which it was carried out will have to be investigated to help us establish circumstances that led to the death of the inmate,” he added.
An official report presented to him upon arrival at Kamiti prison stated that the prisoner was found dead in his cell in the morning.
Prisoners interviewed by Capital News however, maintained that their colleague who was serving a death sentence had collapsed after being beaten during the night operation.
“He was beaten until he collapsed. Warders did not bother to take him hospital,” one of the inmates said.
Mr Osugo said the operation was carried out in cells occupied by 1200 inmates serving death sentences who have been notorious in coercing members of the public through text messages to deposit money in their mobile phones or bank accounts.
165 mobile phones, dozens of rolls of bhang and other crude weapons were recovered during the operation.
“I see a clear case of collusion between my officers and the inmates. There is no way these things could get to the prison without their knowledge,” he said and revealed that he had directed authorities there to conduct regular searches on warders before they are allowed into the cells.
He said stern action would be taken against any officer found to have been involved in sneaking the mobile phones to the prison and those who allegedly tortured inmates.