Ex-convict seeks justice after brother grabs his 20-acre land
On November 13, 2020, Isaiah Kisur Korinyang stepped out of Shimo la Tewa GK Prison after serving a 35-year sentence for murder.
Kisur was 25 years old when a Kitale court in 1998 convicted him of murdering his wife and sentenced him to life in prison. The murder had happened in 1997.
His jail term was reduced to 23 years during President Mwai Kibaki’s administration, and that saw him leave prison earlier.
When he walked out of Shimo la Tewa in 2020, Kisur, 49, had looked forward to reclaiming his life, having paid for his sins.
He was not ready for what awaited him as he set off for his village of Pserum, Kipkomo sub-county, West Pokot County.
Kisur remembers the warm welcome he had received from neighbours and local administrators.
But the biggest challenge was the cold reception from his own brother, who did not welcome him.
He would confirm his worst fears – that he had nowhere to call home. His elder brother had destroyed all his houses and grabbed his 20-acre piece of land.
Kisur claims that when he approached his brother, he told him off, saying he had bought the land himself. He claims efforts to get help from the government had hit a snag. The county lands office did not help either.
He has been crying for justice since, and the streets have become his home, he told Nation.Africa.
“No one wants to accommodate me. I sleep on the streets with watchmen,” he said.
He feels the State has failed him by failing to safeguard his property while he was their ‘guest’ and concludes that he was better off in prison.
“I had two children, aged two and one, when I was arrested and found guilty of murder. I have no idea what they went through since I had accidentally shot their mother dead,” he recounted.
Kisur says he served his jail term in nine prisons – Kitale, Naivasha, Kamiti, Eldoret, Nakuru, Naivasha, Manyani, Shimo la Tewa, Kibos and Kodiaga.
“My jail term was reduced from 35 to 23 years during the Narc regime of former President Mwai Kibaki,” he said.
He had first learnt about his house being demolished and his land fenced off while in prison.
“A human rights group visited the home on my behalf but was told off,” he said.
He would later question why his brother and part of his family were objecting to his release when a probation report was being prepared.
He says their mother had divided her land between the two of them.
When he approached his brother, he responded that he had bought the land himself.
“I have to depend on Good Samaritans and locals for accommodation and upkeep. When I sense that someone feels I have overstayed at their place, I seek refuge at another’s,” he said.
He is yet to seek legal redress in court, citing the high costs.
“My life is hard. I am confused because life in prison was better than what I am going through now. When I have some little money I sleep in lodgings and sometimes I go hungry,” said Kisur, who was a driver before being jailed.
The ex-convict is calling on the government to come to his aid so that he can reclaim his inheritance and start a new life.
“The government should help me because they arrested me but failed to protect my property,” he said.
His daughter Anitah Chepkemoi, who had not seen her father, says she lived with her aunt, who educated her when her father was in prison.
“I knew my father was jailed. I was taken to school by my aunt. We went to our home and asked my uncle, who denied us entry,” said Chepkemoi, 27.
“I hustle and live in a rental house. We don’t know anywhere to call home yet our father had land.”
Kisur is among many ex-convicts in West Pokot who face challenges after finishing their jail terms.
The ex-prisoners find difficulties getting justice, especially on land matters and property ownership.
Nation.Africa has established that the general public does not easily accept people released from prisons on parole. It is hard to involve them in community developmental activities.
The Pokot community was still treating ex-prisoners as criminals even after they complete their jail terms, said Pokot Council of Elders chairperson John Muok.
He challenged community members to accept ex-prisoners back into their fold.
"I am reminding local communities to be tolerant of ex-prisoners and accept them back into their communities as reformed citizens who have opened a new chapter," he said.
He warned community members against taking the property of prisoners and stigmatising them.
“They should be treated like common people and not as wrong-doers,” he said.
Kisur explains that although he has skills that he acquired in prison, he cannot use them, because he lacks capital and a home.
“Before I was jailed I was a driver but now I cannot drive because my licence is invalid because I have not renewed it,” he said.
“In prison, I learnt painting and salesmanship, which I am ready to practice but I have not been able to.”
He says families and community members should not take away property that belongs to imprisoned family members but look after them until they are released.
“Maybe someone thought that because I had been sentenced to life in jail I would not make it back home a free man and alive after all those years,” he said.
West Pokot Governor John Lonyangapuo reminded the community that ex-convicts should not be regarded as criminals.
But he reminded ex-prisoners to report to their local chiefs and their assistants after being released. The administrators are supposed to convene barazas and welcome them back to their communities as reformed citizens.