“Being back home after five years and six months is like being born again. I feel so happy I cannot explain it,” says flamboyant businessman-cum-politician Don Bosco Gichana.
Dressed in navy blue jeans with a matching shirt and shoes, Mr Gichana was relaxed at his apartment in Mombasa almost a week after he was released from Kisongo Prison in Tanzania.
He had been charged with money laundering, which he pleaded guilty to three weeks ago before the High Court in Arusha.
Speaking to the Sunday Nation, Mr Gichana said that after pleading guilty, he was taken back to prison as a convict, where he was forced to wear an orange uniform contrary to what the judge said.
“The court said I pay the TSh300 million (Sh13.3 million) fine within one month or serve time in jail. I was not given prison number because they knew I had not begun serving time,” said Mr Gichana.
He added that from the time he was sent to prison, he was not allowed to eat food brought to him from outside the correctional facility.
“I was now eating purely prison food, maharagwe (beans) and ugali. I also started going out to the farm like any other convicts.”
He said he was helped to raise the money by Deputy President William Ruto, opposition leader Raila Odinga, Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko and Mr Oscar Sudi, among others.
“I was not expecting the fine to be that big because of the period that I had been in custody. It was a very painful decision for me to make (plead guilty), but under the circumstances, that was the only way out,” said Mr Gichana.
He noted that Kisii Governor James Ongwae was the only leader from his home county who assisted him in paying the fine despite many promises from others.
The flamboyant politician says his troubles started in 2013 after the General Election when he decided to go to Tanzania to visit Mr Median Mwale, a friend still in prison, who had been accused of similar charges.
ACCUSED OF FRAUD
His mission was to see how he could secure his release by talking to some leaders.
On his journey back, Mr Gichana said that upon arriving at Namanga border on the Tanzanian side, he was arrested.
He was, thereafter, taken to Arusha Police Station and later to Dar es Salaam.
“I later met an officer investigating Mr Mwale’s case who interrogated me, saying I was involved in fraud,” said Mr Gichana.
They believed money in a bank account they were investigating was tax refunds from the US in a fraud scheme.
“After two weeks, I was taken to Kisutu Law Courts where I was charged with conspiracy and money laundering,” said Mr Gichana.
He describes Tanzania’s justice system as 20 years behind compared to the Kenyan one.
He has been prohibited from entering Tanzania. “But I am not interested in going there,” said the politician, who vied for Kitutu Chache South parliamentary seat in 2013.
He is currently in Mombasa with his wife and two children whom he says he had missed them so much.
The businessman said despite having been away for long, he used to get updates on what was happening in the country through the media and people who visited him.
According to Mr Gichana, no politician from Kisii or Nyamira County ever visited him in prison but said many ordinary people came to see him.
“Only Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka visited me in prison and offered through his lawyers pro bono legal advice.”
So, does he still harbour political ambitions? The businessman said he will contest for a county political seat in the 2022 elections.
“Before 2013 polls, leaders called me to work with them but after I was arrested, they thought that I would not be of any benefit. But I am telling them to wait for my homecoming. I am capable of marshalling not less than a million votes,” said Mr Gichana.
He said after his homecoming, he will be open for consultations with other political leaders.
“We are waiting for two religious leaders before we get the date for homecoming which shall coincide with a memorial mass for my late mum,” concluded Mr Gichana.