Ex-convict, Changed for Life

Peter Wafula (not his real name) has been jailed four times and shot at six times. He attributes all this to peer pressure and poor upbringing at the hands of his teacher. Peter comes from a single parent background comprised of three bothers. Peter was a quite boy since his childhood. All this changed when he entered class six and the male teacher would always cane his for the no apparent good reason.

Anytime the teacher entered class, he would be summoned for two strokes until it hardened him to withstanding pain. With time Peter became the darling of other ‘tough’ boys in school as a person who could withstand pain. This came with a lot of praise and before he could adjust the ‘fame’, had already spread into the whole of Mathare Village 2.

By the time he was in class 8 (15 years), Peter had already started taking alcohol everyday before attending class. No amount of threats by teachers for expulsion would stop him from the newfound life.

In 1990, Peter was arrested for breaking into a neighbour’s house with an intention to steal. He spent one year in remand. He later won the case against him for lack of evidence from the complainant. The remand life hardened him further. He made ‘resourceful’ friends and network while in the remand. But what amazed him in the remand was how the inmates understood legal matters and ready to offer free legal advice. Their advice helped him navigate easily his case. After spending one year and winning the case, Peter went back to his criminal life with vigour having acquired new skills and social networks.

Unfortunately in 1992, he was shot by the police six times neck, chest, back and right leg  as he attempted to rob motorist along Juja Road. The police wanted to kill him as he had become notorious for snatching valuables from moving matatus. Every thought he would die out of the gun shot. At Kenyatta National Hospital, the doctors managed to remove three bullets immediate to save his life. After staying in the hospital for several months he was sentenced to one month jail and later released. Life became very hard and difficult since the bullet lodged in his thigh and neck affected his mobility and voice. He was forced to ‘cooled’ down his criminal activities.

He became famous as the only person walking with two bullets in his body in Mathare Valley. Everybody would talk about him and how he survived. Since he had ‘toned’ down he attracted the attention of a local catholic priest who assisted him to remove the bullet lodged in his neck and thigh. The operation was paid by the priest. Doctors have been able to locate the sixth bullet. In the initial stages all bullets were visible through scan but only five have been removed through operation.

In 1994, he was arrested for mugging and was remanded for two months and later won the case.

2004 was turning point as Peter was arrested for robbery with violence. This offense sent cold shivers on his spine. He managed to spend 2 years and 5 months in the remand. For the first since he tested the prison life, he was shocked with the experience. The prison warders were harsh to the core. He regretted all what he had been doing and asked God for a second chance in life. Fellow prisoners gave him moral support. He experience homosexuality for the first time; how inmate were forced by circumstance into homosexuality for survival. In the two year he was in remand, Peter managed to make friend with 300 people whom he knew by their full names.

Since November 2006, Peter has never even thought of stealing or breaking the law. His experience in the prison and the hard life changed him completely.

Peter has now retired to quite life and works as a casual labourer in construction site. You will never know what he has been through life not unless he tells you the story. – Simon


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