The Kenya Prisons Service has broken its silence after Citizen TV exposed how local correctional facilities have contributed to increased fraud in the country.
The exposé dubbed “Kamiti Call Centre” that aired on Sunday, lifted the lid on mobile phone scams that have seen locals and foreigners lose millions of shillings to cons serving time at the Kamiti Maximum Prison.
In a press statement on Wednesday, Commissioner General of Prisons Brigadier (Rtd) John Kibaso Warioba faulted the station for basing its story on an old clip.
One of the convicts in the footage used by Lulu Hassan was David Tett, the son of a former assistant minister Betty Tett.
Tett is seen making a call pretending to be a foreigner using a ‘perfect’ British accent.
While indicating that Kenyan prisons had undergone a transformation, Warioba noted that the video of the said incident was recorded way back in 2019.
Interestingly, the prisons boss revealed that the inmate at the centre of the exposé was freed in September 2021.
“The Kenya Prisons Service wishes to set the record straight that the clip was recorded way back in 2019. We wish to further clarify that one David Tett, a former prisoner, who was referred to in the clip aired on 18th April, 2022 as a mastermind of the vice, was transferred from Kamiti Maximum Security Prison to Kamiti Medium Security Prison on 22nd July, 2021 from where he was eventually released on 9th September 2021,” said Warioba.
“Kamiti Maximum Security Prison has undertaken serious measures to enhance the security and safety of the inmates, officers and members of the public. The Kamiti of today is different from the one that was portrayed in the story of 18th April, 2022.”
He insisted that while the prisons department appreciates the media for educating and informing the public about what is going on in correctional facilities, correct facts must be presented.
“If it is a story or clips recorded in the past, like the one which is the subject of this clarification, it should be indicated so,” he added.
— Kenya Prisons Service (@PrisonsKe) April 20, 2022
Tett was sentenced to death after he was found guilty of being part of a gang that violently robbed his foster father, William Tett, on September 6, 2011, in Karen, Nairobi.
But the sentence was revised to a 15-year jail term in September last year after a successful appeal.
Warioba didn’t explain the circumstances under which the convict was freed given he had not completed his sentence by the time he is said to have been released from custody.
Kamiti Con Games
An anonymous source who spoke to Ms Hassan revealed that the inmates conduct their dealings in the prison’s Block A.
There, the source said, is a busy area where no one should be caught idling.
The inmates use a particular brand of phone for the extra sim card slots and features that help alter voices.
The inmates prey on millions of unemployed youths and their families.
“The fraudsters can send one message to up to 1,000 contacts by guessing and selecting numbers randomly,” the source stated.
“When there is ongoing recruitment in KDF, you draft a message informing the recipient of the recruitment drive and asking them to send their child’s details for special consideration then send the text to the 1,000 contacts. How many people want their children to join KDF, very many.
“For some victims who are a little stubborn, they are given fake documents said to be from a KDF coordinator in order to convince them.”
The elaborate scheme also involves others outside the prison as well as prison guards who are also seen in the amateur videos.
The guards, the source said, can make at least Sh5,000 a day from the scams.
The rogue prison warders also make some Sh2,000 for helping the conmen hide the phones.