The world is not unfamiliar with injustices. Local, national, and world news has been overwhelmed with headlines reporting acts of hate and corruption. Nairobi, Kenya is no exception, recently making international news for the murder of an International Justice Mission staff member, his client, and their taxi driver.
Willie Kimani worked for IJM in Kenya battling to protect the poor from violence and corruption. He, his client Josephat Mwenda, and their taxi driver, Joseph Muiruri, were abducted on June 23, 2016 and killed several days later. No arrests have been made in connection to their murder.
According to IJM, “In Kenya, it’s easy for a corrupt or incompetent police officer to frame and imprison an innocent person – who then must wait in jail, often for years, for a chance to prove his or her innocence.”
Daystar alumnus John (names have been changed to protect those involved) experienced this horror first hand. In 1989 John was working as a bank teller, as he had for 21 years, when men stormed into the bank, pointing guns and demanding money. The robbers left with the money and John and his colleagues were unharmed. John reported the incident to the police. When the police arrived to take statements, they took John into custody.
The police took John to a room and beat him severely, demanding him to confess to working with the robbers to carry out an inside job. John refused to confess to a crime he did not commit. The torture continued and John’s wife and family were never notified of his detainment. John said, “The police never booked me so my family did not know where I was.” He was moved to different locations overnight to keep his location unknown.
John’s family went to the courts and demanded to know where he was. After a week of torture John was produced in court and charged with armed robbery under a section of the law that allowed no bail at that time.To this day, if you are found guilty of armed robbery in Kenya under this section of the law, the sentence is death by hanging.
John’s case lasted over three years due to the several delays by the police who claimed they had evidence against him. Meanwhile John stayed in remand prison for the length of the period, his wife and son left alone. The jail was overcrowded, with constant outbreaks of cholera. Each day John received a shot-glass sized portion of corn porridge to eat. “But the greatest pain is that you are not connected to your family,” John said. Family visits were rarely allowed and John did not see his young son for the whole three and a half years he spent in prison.
“GOD, IF YOU RELEASE ME,
I WILL WORK FOR YOU”
IJM heard of John’s case and his wife brought an attorney to visit him in jail, but John was skeptical and scared of what might happen if they fought back. Even so, IJM took on his case.
After months of hard work, IJM successfully had John’s case overturned and John was released from prison after spending over three years of his life wrongfully incarcerated.
John struggled finding his place in society after his release. He suffered from hearing loss, painful bones and joints, and PTSD from his torture. But he was reminded of a promise he made in prison, “God, if you release me, I will work for you.” He considered becoming a pastor or working in community development.
While considering all these things, John heard about Daystar University. In 2002 he enrolled in the community development program and was given financial assistance through Daystar U.S. In 2006 IJM invited John to do his internship with them and in 2008 John became a full time IJM employee.
John has committed his life to battling the same corrupt system that he went up against. He travels to different communities to educate people and makes sure no one has to be alone in their battle against injustices.