CONFLICTING ACCOUNTS

Family wants IGP to probe prisoner's death

Mbithi died after he was treated at Machakos Referrral Hospital

In Summary

•Some inmates allege Mbithi was tortured to death by prison warders

•County commissioner says he was given strong medicine that killed him; hospital denies

IGP Hillary Mutyambai
PROBE: IGP Hillary Mutyambai
Image: FAITH MUTEGI

A family in Kyumbi, Machakos county, is crying for justice after their relative jailed in Machakos GK Prison died in unclear circumstances.

The family wants Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai to investigate Mbithi Wambua's death.

According to a doctor's report at Machakos Referral Hospital, Mbithi was taken to the facility on October 26 complaining of stomach problems, was treated and discharged in stable condition.

“The body was brought in on 27/10/2019 at 1.30am under a prisons warden. They were asked to get a police abstract which was given with OB NO 06/27/2019. The body was labeled and transferred to the Machakos Level 5 morgue and is currently preserved there,” Machakos Health executive Ancent Kituku said.

Mbithi's family alleges they got news of his demise from inmates, and even after waiting for 15 hours, there was no news from the Machakos GK Prison administration.

"We were informed by someone who spotted him while he was brought to the hospital on Saturday before he died the following day. The prison didn’t tell us anything and we wonder why they waited that long to inform us," Mbithi's sister Virginia Katuku said.

Stephen Wambua, a cousin of the deceased, told the Star the doctor on duty that night at Machakos Referral Hospital declined to give the family any information.

Wambua and Mbithi's mother Lydia Mbeneka went to the mortuary to identify his body but they were turned away and told to come back with a prison warder.

Some inmates alleged Mbithi was tortured to death by prison warders.

The deceased's friends who complained about his mistreatment inside the prison were transferred to different cells to conceal the truth, they said.

Inmates said on the night of his death at around 8pm, they informed the warden on duty about Mbithi's worsening condition but they were ignored until he passed on at around 1am.

The prison officer-in-charge Kambo Mwangi declined to speak on the issue, referring the Star to Machakos county commissioner Esther Maina.

She said the inmates were transferred due to grief following the demise of their friend.

The commissioner said doctors gave Mbithi strong medication which overpowered him, causing his death.

"He was given strong antibiotics but since in prison there is no special diet, he couldn't handle it," Maina said.

"You know in the prisons the food they take is not suitable for a sick person and he had been weak for a long time."

Maina dismissed the allegations of torture, saying, "Prisoners cannot speak well about jail. He was generally sick and weak and there is no foul play on this matter".

Maina added that the family should accept the inmate's death, which she termed as normal.

But Machakos hospital management disputed Maina's statement, arguing Mbithi was given the right medication and there is no way it could have caused his death.

Mbithi’s sister Katuku said her brother was jailed for robbery with violence. He was in the forefront of fighting for better conditions in jail, something irritated the warders.

The family demanded a postmortem, which prison authorities agreed to ahead of Mbithi's burial on Wednesday.