Jail crackdown nets 142 mobile phones

By: WINNIE ATIENO

A police search at the Shimo La Tewa Prison has netted 142 mobile phones and 500 SIM cards. Cocaine, cigarettes and civilian clothes were also seized.

The phones are used by the prisoners to communicate with their relatives and to fleece the public of cash.

The two-day crackdown has caused panic among senior prison officers, some of whom are said to have assisted inmates acquire the communication gadgets after receiving bribes.

“They can send you an M-Pesa message showing that you have received some cash, only for them to call later, claiming they sent the message and money to a wrong number. They proceed to ask you to send back the money,” said a prison warder who wished to remain anonymous.

He said most of the prisoners at the jail have phones due to corruption.

“Corruption is everywhere, even at the prison. The inmates have godfathers they pay fees to, to be allowed to have phones and even credit cards.

“They hide the phones in some body parts, so during searches we cannot find them,” he added.

But last week, Kenya Prison Service Commissioner-General Isaiah Osugo held consultative meetings at the jail, then supervised the operation.

Two senior officials are likely to be sacked in a shake-up at the institution.

Coast Prison Commander James Kodieny said the items were found during a normal search.

The facility is home to some terrorism masterminds, pirates and other hard-core criminals.

International terror suspect Jermaine Grant is also in the prison.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION