Drama ensued at Kangeta Prison in Igembe Central Sub-County, Meru county Wednesday afternoon after the Kenya Association of Private Hospitals Mt Kenya region chairman, Dr. Cyprian Thiakunu, stormed the facility demanding that he be jailed.
Dr. Thiakunu, who caused drama at the Prison gate, told security officers that he wanted “to show solidarity with his colleagues in government hospitals”, who are currently on industrial action demanding that the government honours a CBA of 2013 that it signed with Kenya Medical Practitioners Dentists and Pharmacists Union (KPMDU) officials.
“I have brought myself to prison so that I can be jailed, just like the KPMDU officials. I want to show my solidarity with them,” said Dr. Thiakunu at the gate of Kangeta Prison after security officers denied him access to the facility, saying there was no reason for him to be held in jail.
Dr. Thiakunu, who operates a private hospital in Igembe Central Sub-County, only left vicinity of the prison when he heard that the Court of Appeal had ordered for the release of seven KPMDU officials (Doctors: Ouma Oluga, Daisy Korir, Allan Ochanji, Titus Ondoro, Chibanzi Mwachonda, Evelyne Chege, Samuel Oroko) who were jailed on Monday for contempt of court.
The Court of Appeal had Wednesday signed consent for the release of the seven jailed doctors union officials after parties in the case by consent, agreed to have them released with a view to continue with negotiations.
The parties who entered the consent before three Appellate Judges; Wanjiru Karanja, Hannah Okwengu and Jamilla Mohamed, are now expected back in court within seven days – to present a comprehensive report that will illustrate a framework for calling off the strike.
In their argument, the parties comprising the Attorney General, doctors union and the Council of Governors asked for the release of KMPDU bosses to allow a conclusion of a return to work deal with the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) leading the talks.
The appeal followed a ruling by the Labour and Employment Court Judge Hellen Wasilwa on Monday that said the KMPDU officials be jailed for one month for contempt of court.
The doctors’ strike enters its 75th day today (Thursday, February 16).
Ouma Oluga jail experience
KMPDU Secretary General Dr. Ouma Oluga said Wednesday evening that prisoners at Kamiti Maximum Prison “took better care of him than how the government has” after he was released from the facility.
Dr. Oluga alongside six other KMPDU officials, who were jailed for 30 days beginning Monday by Labour and Employment Court Judge Judge Hellen Wasilwa for contempt of court, had only served two days before their Wednesday release.
“For me, I was born in the most humble walks of life. I don’t have wealthy connections. The life inside here (Kamiti Maximum Prison) is so familiar to my background. Prisoners are humans too, they need help too. There are so many people in here who have never broken the law. We found a new reason to help; even themselves, they don’t have the doctors. I came face to face with people who needed me. If I stayed here longer, the prisoners would have been happier to have a doctor attending to them.
“I have seen very good hearts here, people who have taken care of me – much better than how the government has taken care of me,” said Dr. Oluga, who spent two nights as a guest of the state.
Dr. Oluga was adamant that talks with the government to end the ongoing doctors’ strike “must be based on the CBA 2013”, adding: “It is absolutely impossible to break the spirit of Dr. Ouma Oluga”.
(Report by Koome Kimencu in Meru County)