Insiders Expose How Contrabands Are Sneaked Into Prisons

  • The rioting of prisoners at Kamiti Maximum Prison on Monday, September 30, over a move by prison warders to confiscate contrabands from them, exposed the rot within the country’s prison department. 

    The uncommon incident hit news headlines, shocking the public on how individuals convicted for various crimes and had been locked up in the prison, gained access to the contrabands that included liquor, cigarettes, mobile phones, minor weapons and other illegal drugs. spoke to different officials in the prisons department as well as former convicts who revealed how the banned items found their way into the correctional facilities.  

    Originally designed to house 800 inmates, Shimo La Tewa Maximum Security Prison in Mombasa accommodates over 2400 inmates

    Coast region prison boss Henry Kisingu, who is well known for his toughness in exposing rogue officers involved in the long chain that supplies contrabands to prisoners, said that the war against the business had been long but successful.

    Speaking to this reporter, he urged prison warders manning various entry points within a prison needed to be more cautious to deal with those involved in the business. 

    Kisingu, for the past two months, had seen three people arrested while trying to sneak prohibited items into Manyani Prison. Under his watch, officers vowed to ensure they dealt with the problem until it was completely eliminated.

    “In the Coast, they will not have room to conduct their activities. In addition, all officers involved in this business will blame themselves if we get hold of them,” he spoke. 

    Kisingu mentioned that the installation of CCTV cameras within Manyani Prison had played a key role in dealing with the menace. 

    For instance, in the month of August, two police officers identified as Boniface Korir and William Chengo, who had hidden cocaine inside a toilet in the prison, were nabbed and arraigned in court. 

    Detectives believed that the duo was planning to deliver the prohibited drugs to prisoners within the cells but their plan was thwarted.

    In another instance, a woman who was carrying a baby was nabbed by hawk-eyed prison warders in the same correctional centre as she tried to sneak drugs into the cells. 

    The unidentified lady was visiting a relative when she was nabbed. 

    Elsewhere, a prison warder based in Malindi was arrested by his colleagues after they found rolls of bhang hidden in his genitals.

    Another warder based at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison who spoke to on condition of anonymity, as he is not authorized to speak to the media, disclosed that a concern was raised by senior officers since a section of prisoners showed signs of drug addiction. 

    “Most are those who reside in Block G which is known to have notorious prisoners who will never miss a mobile phone, drugs and how they end up there remains a mystery,” he revealed, adding that “some rogue officials are involved in delivering the contrabands.” 

    Coast region prison boss Henry Kisingu is well known for his toughness in exposing rogue officers

    According to him, the rogue prison warders then sold them to prisoners above the normal market rates. In turn, the prisoners also sell the contraband to their mates at even higher prices. learnt that most visitors hid the prohibited items and it took the warders a lot of effort get them. In the past, many have been found hiding the drugs in their hair, inside baby napkins, shoes and under inner soles. 

    Other tricks that are improvised by those involved in the business include hiding the drugs inside a bar soap and bread. 

    A report published by the International Journal of Research in Social Sciences states that it is difficult to achieve the rehabilitation mandate of prisons because inmates abuse drugs, with bhang listed as the most abused. 

    "These drugs and substances are smuggled into prison institutions by the prison staff. The expensive and highly addictive drugs such as heroin and cocaine are also available in our prison compounds," read part of the report. 

    The Senate Committee on Justice, Legal Affairs and Human Rights in the country is looking into the matter and wants to ensure that law and order is maintained within the prisons. 

    Nandi Senator, Samson Cherarkey has in the past said that the government should ensure it equips the prisons with digital machines in order to deal with the menace. 

    In April 2019, he also urged that action should be taken against officers who are found sneaking contrabands into prisons. In addition, he noted a need to transfer prison warders regularly.  

    Part of what the committee has put into consideration include; ensuring that all the prisons in the country have machines that not only detect gadgets like mobile phones and laptops but also need to improvise tricks that would bring to an end the sneaking of drugs into the cells.

    Commissioner General of Prisons Wycliffe Ogalo (l) receives a salute from a ranked officer based at Manyani Prison
    drug abuse weapon arrest illegal