Alice Mueni, an ex-Lang’ata Women’s Prison inmate, has shared details about her life in crime, revealing that she was introduced to villainy by her peers back in 2005.
The ex-prisoner, who is now an anti-crime advocate, says she was charged with robbery with violence shortly after she was introduced to the felony. Her sentence lasted two-and-a-half years; and looking back, she says, she regrets her then-actions.
Speaking to Citizen Television’s 10 Over 10 show host, Joey Muthengi, on Friday, May 19, Ms Mueni revealed that her days in crime typified a hasty woman, who, time and again, would engage in irresponsible sexual behaviour.
She says the consequences of rash sexual behaviour would become vivid, in form of an unplanned pregnancy, when she had begun serving her two-and-a-half-years sentence in Lang’ata Prison.
She had to look after her daughter while in prison.
“I ventured into crime in 2005 after excessive persuasion by my then-peers. I engaged in different criminal activities, including robbery with violence, which saw me being imprisoned at the Lang’ata Women’s Prison for two-and-a-half years. When I was released from prison in 2007, I had learnt a lot of helpful lessons in life,” she said.
“When I was being locked up, I had not known that I was expectant. I only found out when I was behind bars. I gave birth to my daughter, Latiffah, when I was in prison. Since 2005, I have seen many people, most of whom were my friends, being killed for engaging in crime. After securing my release from prison, I embarked on a mission to preach against crime, especially those perpetrated by the youth,” added Ms Mueni, a Kasarani resident.
Making reference to Claire Njoki, who was buried in Murang’a County on Thursday, May 18, after she was killed for failing to surrender to the police after engaging in a series of criminal activities in Kayole, Mueni said it hurts that the youth lose lives for engaging in crime; a life that would have been saved had they refrained from wrongdoing.
“It hurts me today that we buried a young woman, who was only 18, the other day in Murang’a because of crime,” she said.
“The government should create employment opportunities for the youth that would see many of them, who are currently idle, absorbed into the job market,” said Mueni, whose remark was followed with a round of applause from the 10 Over 10 live audience. “Amen!” a section of the live audience, who were predominantly youth, was heard shouting.
“I would urge (President)Uhuru Kenyatta to set aside a day or special function to listen to the youths’ problem,” Ms Mueni made this appeal to the Head of State.
According to Juliana, who is a youth psychologist and counselor; and is also youth representative at the National Youth Council, the reasons why the young adults engage in crime are: lack of mentorship, neglect by government, tough requirements put in place for the youth who want to access credit facilities; and government’s lack of a proper social integration system for the youth who miss out on university and college chances.
“I think many youth in the country currently lack what we call mentorship. The youth are left to survive and learn key life lessons by their own. The crop of leaders we have today, many of them, do not look into the welfare of the youth. The government also is to blame for neglecting the youth – in terms of financial assistance. Millions of shillings meant for youth empowerment are usually embezzled by the so-called leaders.
“Another reason for increased crime in society is that the government does not have a well-laid out plan for the youth who complete secondary education and do not manage to qualify for college education. So, what happens is that they join their colleagues from previous years, who had not made it to university, and the huge number of idle youth, which would have piled up, then resorts to crime to fend for themselves, given competition for the limited job opportunities in Kenya is extremely stiff!
“Also, there are a lot of sanctions (sic) that do come with the money disbursed by government to help the youth. You’d hear one qualification needed to apply for the youth fund is work experience; where does the government expect these unemployed youth to get that experience from?” posed Juliana.
“I am urging President Uhuru Kenyatta to make the Ministry of Youth Affairs a stand-alone agency. The ministry should be led by a youthful person, who understands the problems we, as youth, are going through. The government also should ensure that the policies put in place to benefit the youth are implemented,” said Juliana.
Another reformed criminal, who spoke on 10 Over 10, Edgar Ogutu, said he resorted to crime because of heavy responsibilities that were resting on his shoulders, given his parents’ inability to adequately provide for him and his six siblings.
Ogutu, however, says he regrets his then-actions.
Ogutu, who reads Sheng news on Ghetto Radio, said: “My main passion is preaching against crime and extra-judicial killings. I grew up with a lot of responsibilities falling on my shoulders, given I was among the elder children in my family. My dad used to receive a monthly salary of KSh3, 000 and we were seven siblings. Mjengo work wasn’t easy to find as the opportunities were few. So, I found myself recruited into crime following the pangs of a difficult life. Nearly 40 of my friends, who engaged in crime, were shot dead. I wouldn’t advise any young person to consider engaging in crime so as to escape shackles of poverty. Hard work pays; and it should,” said Ogutu.