After nearly two decades in jail, this is his first day out

Joseph Kagethe is escorted out of Nakuru Main Prison where he served 20 years.

Photo credit: Mercy Koskei | Nation Media Group

Every morning for nearly 18 years, Joseph Kagethe would wake up in his six by nine feet concrete cell at the highly guarded Nakuru Main Prison and brace himself for the day ahead.

He was among the prison’s longest-serving inmates, and every day that stretched before him was similar to the previous one.

His long time there had earned the rank of a trustee at the prison. 

Joseph Kang'ethe on January 27, 2023.

Photo credit: Mercy Koskei | Nation Media Group

A trustee is a person who leads other prisoners in ensuring there is order in everyday activities at the facility.

But on Friday, Kang'ethe, 69, walked to freedom after completing his jail time for defilement.

At exactly 10:15am on Friday, the doors of the Nakuru Main Prison opened for Kang'ethe.

Holding a bag that had his clothes, a novel and his certificates. He left the facility a reformed man ready to start a new life in the community.

Ready to receive him were officials from the 'Crime Si Poa' organisation, an outfit that has been journeying with Kang'ethe to help prepare him emotionally and physiologically, before he left prison. 

His family members were also present.

Soon after stepping out, he stood outside the Nakuru prison deep in thought.

Mr Kagethe was arrested in 2005 and was held in remand till 2009 and was convicted after a court in Molo found him guilty of defilement and committing an incident act with a minor.

In an interview with the Nation, Kang'ethe said when he first went to prison he was a bitter man, but now he is a changed man, who has accepted his mistakes after jail time.

"I am very happy to be free. I was convicted when I was 40 years old. Life behind bars has not been easy," he said.

Kang'ethe says his wife, with whom they had three children, went away after his conviction.

"My wife packed and left after l was sent to prison. She only occasionally sent our eldest child to see me in prison. The last time l set my eyes on my children was in 2018 when they visited me in prison," he said.

Joseph Kang'ethe when he reunited with his mother.

Photo credit: Mercy Koskei | Nation Media Group

Mr Kang'ethedisclosed that while behind bars he took a tailoring course which he hopes will help him earn an income.

On the day of his release, his siblings in Kuresoi North and neighbors gathered to welcome him.

His mother Caroline Waithera, 95, could not hide her joy. She thanked God that her son returned home while she was still alive. 

Kang'ethe's younger brother James Kariuki said as a family they are ready to help him start life afresh.

Kang'ethe's longtime friend James Muraya, who is also an ex-convict, urged the community not to sideline Kang'ethe because it may affect him mentally.

'Crime Si Poa' programme coordinator Irene Were said the organisation works across the country in different prisons with an aim of helping the inmates reform and integrate back into the community successfully.

“We are here to make sure Kang'ethe is back home and ensure that he settles well at home. For a prisoner the day they get into the prison is their worst day and also when they are coming out because they do not know how the community will receive them we are delighted he has been accepted back,” she said

The prison's security officer superintendent George Odero said Kang'ethe was among other ten prisoners who were freed from jail on Friday.