Loosing a loved one 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 any of those close to us to end behind bars given the pathetic state of our Prisons.
So what happens when misfortune knocks on your door and and one of your relatives end up in one of the government’s holding facilities for people they consider not worthy of being out there with the public?
This was the case of former Nairobi Town Clerk John Gakuo who after falling ill in a prison cell on ended up loosing his life. His family has still not been able to come to terms with his untimely death.
According to Gakuo’s son, what was particulary sad was that his father was wasting away and a report had been made by the prison doctor. His father even pleaded to be granted bail on the grounds of ill health but the judge declined to grant him bail.
He says that as a family, they will forever question why their dad was denied bail.
“His family and friends will forever pose the question, ‘now that John has proved he was actually very sick, what next?” We trust the lawyers will pursue any channels possible to vindicate the good name and reputation of this great Kenyan.” said Gakuo’s son.
Gakuo’s family has said that they will pursue the appeal of Gakuo’s case to the highest level and that nothing will stop them in their quest for justice.
The family has also refuted claims that the late Gakuo was a wealthy man and that there was no way he could have stolen public money meant for a cemetery.
” he was not a wealthy man. He only had his house in Nairobi. A 4 acre piece of land in Nyandarua and a small plot in Kitengela. That is not a man who could steal public money meant for a cemetery” said the family.
Gakuo’s family sentiments come days after Gakuo’s lawyer, Assa Nyakundi, said that Gakuo’s death 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.