Simon Lokwachelia, convicted to death after being found guilty of five counts of robbery with violence by a Nanyuki Court
Lokwachwelia, now aged 49 years, was released from the Rumuruti GK Prison on Sunday after successfully battling appeals to have his sentence reviewed.
On April 13, 2000, the then Nanyuki Senior Resident Magistrate S.M. Kibunja found Lokwachwelia guilty of the charges and has since been behind bars seeking to appeal the judgment.
He was arrested in the Subukia area of Nakuru County and charged in 1998 in Nanyuki for offenses he claims he knew nothing about.
At the time he was arrested, young Lokwachwelia was on his way to look for the girlfriend he intended to marry.
He claims his fiancé had travelled to Subukia and so he decided to visit her.
He hiked a lift from a car at Gatundia trading centre, in the company of a close friend another man. A youthful Lokwachwelia did not know that the vehicle they were travelling in had been stolen and sleuths from Nanyuki were in hot pursuit of the culprits.
On arrival at Subukia trading centre, the ex-convict claims the duo excused themselves leaving him behind in the vehicle when the security officers pounced on him while brandishing their firearms ready to shoot.
He surrendered but could not be able to tell the whereabouts of his colleagues since he had no information that they were criminals.
Since then, he has been battling court cases until 2019 when his appeals were heard before Justice H.P.B Waweru who substituted the sentences from death row to a jail term of 35 years for the five counts and the sentences were to run concurrently under section 296 (2) of the Penal Code.
The sentences were to run from the time of his sentencing on April 13, 2000.
Now, he has been freed after years-long efforts to prove his innocence, and comes out a strong man with a Grade-1 Mechanical engineering craft.
At their home in Kinamba-Sosian village in Laikipia Sunday, Lokwechelia could not hide his joy after stepping out of Rumuruti GK Prison. He notices that so much has changed since then.
The Prison’s Deputy Officer in charge Senior Superintendent of Prisons (SSP) Justus Akhanyinya called on the local community not to abandon and stigmatize their convicted relatives.
He said the public should not discriminate against ex-convicts but help them reconnect with their families once they are set free.
The officer called on the residents to help the government in rehabilitating and improving the lives of prisoners once they have left the correctional facilities.
He said the government is providing them with various job skills while in jail for a smooth transition when they complete their time.