When Fredrick Gitonga, from Mwiria village in Maara sub-county, Tharaka Nithi County, took his errant son to the Ntumu Police Station last year, he wanted him to be reformed and not tortured.
The 19-year-old had dropped out of school in Form Three and joined a village gang of drug users that terrorised villagers by breaking into their houses and stealing.
The worst Mr Gitonga feared was that his beloved son would fall into the hands of an angry mob that has lynched five teenage criminals in the past few years, accusing them of stealing their property.
The boy was sentenced by a Chuka court to four months’ imprisonment at the Kamiti Youth Correction and Training Centre (YCTC) in Nairobi on September 30, 2021.
Mr Gitonga believed that by the end of the four months, his son would have reformed from abusing drugs and perhaps go back to school.
But the young man has remained at the Ntumu Police Station since under severe living conditions.
“I regret surrendering my son to the authorities because my expectations were not met. I expected him to be corrected and not tortured,” the desperate father said.
“This turn of events has caused suspicion in my family, who have now turned against me saying I don’t care about my own son.”
Sleeps on a cold floor
Mr Gitonga told the Nation that his son sleeps on a cold floor, eating just for survival, and his health is deteriorating.
He said whenever he asks the police stations commander (OCS) why his son was not taken to YCTC as ordered by the court, the officer says the station’s only vehicle had no fuel to travel to Nairobi and back.
After failing to get a solution at the station, he said, he reported the matter to Maara sub-county Police Commander Mohammed Jarso and later to county police boss Charles Mbatu, who promised to act but nothing has been done.
“When I reported the matter to Mr Mbatu, he was surprised and disappointed and promised to act but the boy is still at the station,” he said.
When the Nation spoke to Mr Jarso on Tuesday, he confirmed that the boy was still at the police station but promised that he would be taken to YCTC on Wednesday.
But he declined to reveal why the young man has been held at the station for three months and eleven days after sentencing.
“Yes, the OCS has told me he is still at the police station. I will personally make sure he is taken to YCTC tomorrow,” Mr Jarso said.
The father regretted that though he had good intentions and the rest of the family and villagers supported the decision to take the boy the police, they have turned against him and now accuse him of colluding with police to torture his son.
He also fears that the boy could have been radicalised by suspected criminals in the cells.
“Due to this suffering, my son now hates me. At one point, I requested that I provide a vehicle to take him to Nairobi but the OCS declined,” he said.