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Exposed: How corrupt prison warders are harassing Nairobians within the CBD

If you are a Nairobian beware of the newest ‘street gang’ in uniform. It has emerged that Prison warders who were deployed to patrol Nairobi streets are overstepping their mandate by harassing Nairobians on flimsy grounds such failure to produce a national IDs or carrying laptops without purchase receipts.

Online users have severally complained about the warders’ work ethics with some even accusing them of demanding for bribes from city residents.

Activist Boniface Mwangi on Wednesday became the latest victim of the prison warders’ intimidation after he was accosted in the CBD together with his friend, Marc Hoeferlin and asked to produce their IDs.

“I was shocked that prison warders were asking for my documents but I decided to cooperate by asking them to first identify themselves before I could produce my ID,” Mwangi told Nairobi News.

Prison warders  alight form a patrol car. FILE PHOTO | NAIROBI NEWS
Prison warders alight form a patrol car. FILE PHOTO | NAIROBI NEWS

The warders told off Mwangi and his friend stating that since they were uniformed and had guns it was identification enough.

“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.

According to Mwangi, the officers asked for a bribe in order to set them free but when they remained adamant, they were taken to the station.

On arrival at the Central Police station, the two were released and on their way back to town they encountered another group protesting the arrest of their friend by the same warders for wearing a combat jacket.

DEMANDED BRIBE

“We went and found the victim – Robert Cheruiyot – inside a banking hall where he had gone to withdraw some cash to bribe the warders so that he could have his jacket back,” 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.”

Nairobi News sought an explanation from the Central Deputy OCPD Kiprotich Beren over the incidents.

“Once the suspects are brought to the station for failing to produce their IDs, we ask them to produce the documents and some even call to have their friends bring the documents to the station. It is only those who cannot prove that they are registered as citizens who are charged for the offence in a court of law,” said Mr Beren.

Bonface-Mwangi's-friend
Marc Hoeferlin, a friend of Boniface Mwangi, being arrested by a prison warder on the streets of Nairobi.

Activist Mwangi has however faulted the police and accused them of bringing back the colonial retrogressive rules of demanding identification from citizens hence limiting the freedom of movement.

“The issuance of IDs in the country has been slow lately yet there are prison warders in Nairobi asking people to produce IDs. What this means is that those who have not been issued with these documents will stay out of the CBD hence denying them their constitutional right of freedom of movement,” Mwangi said.

Hundreds of prison warders were in December 2014 deployed on the streets of Nairobi to conduct patrols alongside their regular police counterparts.

Nairobi deputy police boss Moses Ombati confirmed the deployment, saying the warders were working “hand-in-hand” with the regular police to boost security.