I was tortured in Nyayo House for having dollars in 1980s

Nyayo house victim Wachira Waheire
Nyayo House victim Wachira Waheire. [Photo: Nairobian]

Kenya’s democracy has come from far, and the freedom that the people enjoy today came through pain and anguish back in the day.

And Wachira Waheire, National Victims and Survivors Network, knows how much it cost for Kenyans to enjoy freedom.

He is a torture victim at the infamous Nyayo House. Wachira always commemorates Saba Saba with painful memories of his 17 days in a torture chamber at Nyayo House.

He told the Nairobian recently that his only crime was to have dollar bills in 1986.

He was from a business trip in DR Congo and returned to the country with foreign currency. The then Special Branch unit picked him up because he was abroad sourcing money to overthrow the late Daniel Moi-led government.

“I was detained without trial at the Nyayo House torture chambers for 17 days starting December 2, 1986 for possessing foreign currency. I had landed from DR Congo a fortnight earlier and the Special Branch said I was on a mission of sourcing funds from overseas to overthrow the government,” he stated.

The following 17 days in the torture chambers marked his lowest and agonizing moments in life.

“You survive on a quarter cup of tea and a piece of bread. One particularly heavy-built officer slaps you until you faint. The other will not stop the beating until you are bleeding profusely or you faint.

“All this was to make you confess to belonging to Mwakenya, a prohibited group that wants to overthrow the government. If you fail to confess, they spray you with hydrate and return you to a water flogged basement cell, where they control the temperatures to extreme cold or hot,” he recalls.

He was then forced to plead guilty to taking an unlawful oath and failing to prevent a felony. After the prosecution team led by Bernard Chunga proved its case, Justice H. H Buch sentenced him to six and a half years in prison.

This was a big blow to Waheire, who had just graduated from the University of Nairobi and landed a job at Associated Battery Manufacturer East Africa as a marketing manager.

His young family broke when he was imprisoned for something he did not do.

He has forgiven his torturers. He met one of the cops who tortured him, and they had coffee together.

The cop apologized and explained that he was under duress. His failure to obey orders from the top could see him become a victim of the same.