A 10-year-old girl is nursing injuries after prison warders who were pursuing an escapee from Nyeri Medium Prison allegedly meted brutality on residents of Witemere slums on Tuesday.
The Standard Two pupil of Nyamachaki Primary School was claimed to have been hit with a stick on the cheek by the prison officers who were searching for the convict.
The pupil was one of dozens of slum's residents injured.
According to prison officials, the inmate escaped while on custodial duties in Nyeri town on Tuesday afternoon. “He was serving a short sentence and some are allowed to work under guard outside the prison. That is how he escaped,” said Central Deputy Regional Prisons boss Stephen Kiplagat.
Following the escape, a team from the Nyeri Main Prison was dispatched and the first stop was the slum that borders the correctional facility.
The officers reportedly knocked down doors and beat up residents, demanding that they give up the escapee. The girl's mother, Ms Margaret Wangechi, said she was among the casualties of the operation’s brutality after the officers broke into their house. She was alone in the house having arrived home from school.
Ms Wangechi said neighbours who heard the girl crying went to her rescue as the officers proceeded to search other houses. Ms Wangechi claimed an officer hit her on the face and left her bleeding and she suffered a deep cut on her left cheek.
“My neighbour told me to rush to Nyeri County Referral Hospital because my daughter had been injured,” a teary Ms Wangechi said.
A pregnant woman and her husband are also said to have been beaten up by the officers during the search. Residents also accused the officers of looting their homes. “They failed to do their jobs and now they punish us for it. If they are unable to keep the prisoners in jail we are ready to take up those jobs,” Ms Jane Wanjira, a resident, said.
However, Mr Kiplagat refuted the claims of assault, saying they are yet to get any report of such incidents. “If there have been cases of assault from our officers the residents should make that report and we will investigate and take action,” he said.
The Tuesday escape was, however, not the first incident as another prisoner broke out of the prison in a similar manner two weeks ago. The inmate is said to have slipped away while on duty outside the prison. He was however arrested near Karatina town on his way home.
The prisons boss said investigations are underway to establish if the escapes were done in collusion with officers on duty or whether it was a case of laxity. “Definitely if there was laxity or collusion we will take disciplinary action against the officers on duty,” said Mr Kiplagat.
The convict who escaped on Tuesday is yet to be found.