Loosing your life in Prison is something many of us have never imagined and don’t want to even imagine of in the first place. In fact, i am sure we all wouldn’t want to end behind bars given the pathetic state of our Prisons.
So what happens when misfortune knocks on your door and you end up in one of the government’s holding facilities for people they consider not worthy of being out there with the public?
What if you get ill in Prison, are you assured of good health care and medical attention in the cells? Well, we have seen instances when accused or convicted persons fall ill. At times the courts recommend treatment for them and at times, some judges are just so inhumane that they won’t even hear a suspects plea for medical attention.
This was the case of former Nairobi Town Clerk John Gakuo who after falling ill in a prison cell on Tuesday ended up loosing his life.
According to lawyer Assa Nyakundi, this should be a wake-up call to judges who brazenly disregard prisoners’ complaints of ill-health.
Mr Nyakundi, who was representing Mr Gakuo, 68, at the High Court where the former city boss was fighting a three-year sentence handed to him in May, cited a recent court ruling which blocked him from being released on bail pending appeal.
“Unfortunately, the judge did not think that his medical conditions were compelling enough to have him released,” Mr Nyakundi told journalists outside Nairobi West Prison, where Mr Gakuo was being held before his sudden death.
“I know from my experience as a lawyer that medical issues can provide exceptional circumstances in which a person can be released from jail pending the hearing of the appeal,” he added.
While applying for the release of Mr Gakuo, his legal team had cited his health complications, saying he was suffering from high blood pressure and chest pains and had been in and out of hospital due to frailty. His incarceration, the team had said, would cause him irreparable harm. Mr Nyakundi said the judge did not consider their argument compelling enough.
“He did not think that at that point, we had demonstrated to him that there was no point in holding him in jail; that he needed to be released,” he said.
“Given this case of John Gakuo, I think there is a compelling reason for us in the justice system to take medical issues seriously, especially when it involves prisoners who do not have the latitude and the freedom,” added the lawyer.
John Gakuo died yesterday at the Mbagathi District Hospital in Nairobi after being rushed there from Nairobi West Prison where he was serving a jail sentence.
Gakuo, 68, was sentenced to a three-year jail term in May after conviction in the Sh283 million cemetery land scandal.
He was jailed alongside former Local Government PS Sammy Kirui, former secretary for legal aff airs in the defunct Nairobi City Council Mary Ng’ethe and former tender committee chairman Alexander Musee.