Intriguing Tales of Kamiti Escapees

  • Legends are born not made, or so they say.

    And the inmates who have orchestrated their return to freedom from Kamiti Maximum Security Prison may indeed consider themselves as such.

    On an early Saturday morning on May 23, 2015, Kenyans woke up to the incredible news that three inmates serving life sentences at Kamiti had stolen their freedom in one of the most daring escapes from the maximum-security facility. 

    Inmates at the Kamiti Maximum Security Prison.

    The three: Joseph Kinyanjui, John Kamau Gathoni, and Isaac Karanja Mwangi escaped their cell by cutting through the metal grill at 2 a.m. on a Saturday night.

    Nearly five years down the line and the criminals are still riding off into their sunset while the case grows cold.

    The escape of the three may be what inspired another group of freedom-hungry prisoners to try replicate the move a year later in 2016.

    A report published by The Standard on January 24, 2016, around the time the escape was foiled, however, indicated that this group of escapees weren't new to the game.

    Cosmas Mogaka and Hassan Mangale who attempted their own prison break from Kamiti had already orchestrated another successful escape from Shimo la Tewa in July of 2013.

    According to the Commissioner of Prisons, General Isaiah Osugo, the duo had achieved their Shimo la Tewa escape by scaling up the prison walls using planks of wood.

    However, in Kamiti, they chose to go with the tried and tested method of the 2015 trio by cutting through the metal grills in their cells using a hacksaw

    Their efforts, seeing as they are still in prison, failed.

    Kamiti Maximum Security Prison in Nairobi where wardens foiled the escape ploy of the 2016 duo on January 24, 2016.

    The 2015 and 2016 attempts, follow a consistent history of other attempted Kamiti escapesOne notable case is the foiled escape of six hard-core criminals who had already cut through the metal grills of several of their cells on a Wednesday morning in September 2011.

    The attempted escape, which was reported by The Standard on September 22, 2011, did not pan out as planned. A warden who got wind of the prisoners already out of their cells decisively killed the plot.

    It was not clear how the prisoners got access to the tools, but with an enduring history of contaband being easily smuggled into Kenyan prisons for years, with guards being fingered as some of the facilitators, it does not take much guessing. 

    In October 2019, spoke to different officials in the prisons department as well as former convicts who revealed how contraband was smuggled into correctional facilities.  

    A 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.”

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