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PART III: Court and Journey to Malukhu Government Prison

That morning while still at police, we were all woken up at 7:00AM and commanded to move out for identification parade also loosely known as Fall in or Pollen – whatever that means.

 

I moved out with all my clothes on whereas the other suspects were shirtless and we were forced to squat in rows and in pairs.

 

One officer saw that I was dressed in my shirt and harshly ordered me to ‘toa sati.’  I obeyed and quickly removed it. This was embarrassing because a number of workmates were already in the police station to see me; word having gone around that I had been arrested.

 

I went through the embarrassing torture as the officer called out suspects one by one each with his/her corresponding alleged offence. He could not trace my name in their charge book so he asked who I was and what I was doing in their police cells.

 

At that point, the Officer In Charge the station remembered that I was his ‘special guest’ and immediately asked who ordered me to remove my shirt. Of course there was no answer and I could not point fingers.

 

“Can you put on your shirt and go back to the office and wait for the IGG detectives to take you to court,” he ordered to my relief.

 

Many colleagues then came to me, bringing a number of food items especially juice, bread and the like. Their sympathies made me cry even the more- And when my wife came to visit, it became worse. By that time my eyes were red – red from constant crying and lack of sleep.

 

I went through that experience till 11:00AM when the IGG team came.

 

“Afande where is our suspect?” They asked jokingly as if the whole thing was a drama.

 

“He is here and we kept him very well,” he replied as they told me to dress well because we were headed to court.

 

I was given all the other items that were kept at the counter the previous evening and in the same vehicle that picked me from my workplace; we proceeded to Mbale High Court. The beautiful IGG detective still sat on my left but this time, I did not have any feelings, I did not even feel the warmth emanating from her succulent thighs – they were all now enemies.

 

At the High Court, I was ushered into a Grade One Magistrate’s Chambers. Inside we were 5. The three IGG detectives, my lawyer and myself.

 

The charges were read to me and of course I denied them all. My lawyer then asked for bail. However, the Magistrate said he did not have the jurisdiction to hear my bail application and was only requested to read to me the charges.

 

He remanded me for 7 days with the assurance that my bail application would be heard then.

 

I was ushered out of the room into another cell. This time it was Court cells that are found at the basement of the Court building. There I found many prisoners who had been brought to attend to their cases in court. There was still life here. Prisoners chatted, met their relatives/friends and spouses and ate wolfishly. It was here that for the first time since my arrest, I managed to have a full meal. There was also enough fresh air. Remember till that point I had not yet tasted a handcuff.

 

At exactly 5:00PM we were ordered to board a prison lorry en route Malukhu Prison. We were paired and handcuffed – another bitter experience. Every time my pair-mate seemed to move away from me, the handcuff got tighter and sunk deeper into my wrists until we both realized that it was only to our good that we moved in tandem.

 

And so we reached Malukhu prison at 6:30PM and in our pairs jumped down the lorry effectively disturbing the handcuffs – they got tighter and more hurting to our wrists.

 

A prison Warder whom I later came to know as Chief Boma was the one who received us by counting us in pairs and when he was satisfied that the number tallied with the one that left court, he uncuffed us.

 

That same evening, we were allocated prison account numbers and we deposited our civilian clothes, underpants, shoes, belts, wallets and money. We found the officer in charge of stores with one Prisoner helping him to give out prison uniforms.

 

Now fully dressed in yellow shirts and yellow shorts without underwear, we were allocated different Wards and RPs were on standby to escort us, the freshers to our new homes.

 

I was taken to Ward B, where most suspects resided. I was ushered in by the RP who left immediately leaving me in suspense. I remained standing not knowing what to do next.

 

“We nani?” One of the prisoners asked me. I later learnt that he was one of the Ward elders.

 

“My name is Omagor..,” I tried to introduce myself but I think I was not audible enough either because of my dry throat or trembling voice or both. The other reason could be that the elders simply wanted to tease me.

 

“How can you introduce yourself without greeting elders? What do you call yourself?” Another elder roared. A sweat broke and I realized my armpits had become wet.

 

“Good evening?” I labored but in place of an answer to my greeting, there was only silence.

 

“Is that how you greet elders?” The Ward RP asked me. I was confused, so I kept quiet.

 

“Greet elders like this; “Habari Wazee?” He tutored me.

 

“Habari Wazee?” I greeted again but there was silence.

 

“Man, can you greet more loudly, elders have not heard your greeting,” the Ward RP ordered. I was now seething with anger, wondering what right these criminals had to embarrass me like that but still I obeyed.

 

“Habari Wazeeeeee?” I greeted more loudly as counseled.

“Zeeeee” came the reply.

“Habari Wazeeeee?”

“Zeeeeee” Came the conclusive reply from all members of the Ward. I was then allowed to proceed with my introduction.

Later, the RP Ward took me through an induction of the dos and don’ts of the Ward.

 

“First; at exactly 9:00PM lights will be switched off and that means no more talking.” I think that was the biggest no go area.

 

“Secondly, you must contribute towards the Ward’s hygiene by giving a bar of soap, omo or liquid soap,” he continued. I told him I had the soap and Omo as well. He picked the two items from me and handed them over to the Ward Leader adorably called Katikkiro.

 

I was then officially received and enrolled as a Ward member. This process included taking my particulars.

 

Then I was led to the toilets- still on induction. As we approached the toilets which were at the furthest end of the Ward, I expected a complete mess of buckets full of shit and urine. However, even as we were entering through the door into the toilets, there was no foul smell.

 

I was shocked to find the toilets and bathroom very clean.

 

“When you use the toilet, make sure you pour two basinfuls of water and if any water spills on the floor ensure that you mop it dry with that rag hang over there. Equally, after bathing you must mop the floor dry. These are rules you must not break because if you do you will be punished severely.” The Ward’s RP continued with the induction.

 

We then went back into the Ward and since we still had about one hour of talk time, the RP who by now had elected to be my friend and guardian asked about my case.

 

As I narrated my case particulars to him, I kept wondering where I was going to sleep. The Ward was divided generally into two sections: The Executive wing was a quarter of the Ward and here was where the Katikkiro, Ward RP and a few distinguished Inmates slept. You could only be distinguished if you were able to wet the elders’ beaks.

 

The executive wing was more spacious because one inmate could afford space enough for a 2*2 inch mattress. It was also cleaner since no inmate could just walk in there unless on special invitation or on disciplinary hearing.

 

The general wing was crowded; sleeping space was measured by placing the two figure lengths of two hands. That was roughly an inch of sleeping space! It was also heavily infested with lice despite the daily mopping.

 

Those are issues I was able to identify as I continued narrating my case particulars.

 

“But RP, where am I going to sleep?” I asked him interrupting the case narrative.

“You will sleep near me here, so do not worry,” he said. That relaxed me a bit. I now knew I would be spared the messy general wing.

 

The RP who later introduced himself as Ogwang from Mukura in Ngora district then told me his story.

 

He was in Malukhu on remand together with a friend of his called Ochola for armed robbery.  I asked him if it was true that he indeed participated in the said robbery and he replied in the affirmative.

 

Ogwang told me that, the Kumi robbery was just one among many that he had pulled off. Other robberies were done in Kenya.

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