Prison cells make you all equal, so it goes, and Teresa Njoroge knows this better than anyone else.
She spent time at the Lang’ata Women’s Prison in Nairobi after conviction for a crime she never committed.
Njoroge was a bank manager, and she was a victim of collateral damage.
A customer lost Ksh9.9 million in a transaction that she was involved in. And for that, she had to carry the cross for her employer.
She recalls that in April 2008, a male customer walked to the bank and asked for a 3-step withdrawal service.
It involved the money being transferred to another bank. There was nothing fishy about it because it was something she had done before.
“My branch manager had to authorise it too. Plus the other branch’s manager. We all did approve, and everything was in place and in order,” she told the Wicked Edition.
Moments after, it emerged that this was a fraud case, and she was responsible for it.
For two-and-a-half years, she became a guest of the courts and was sent to prison, where she spent eight months before successfully appealing the case and walking free again.
However, at the time, she had a toddler with who she went to prison with.
The young girl spent eight months at the correctional facility.
It was hard for Njoroge to accept that she was in prison for a crime she did not commit.
She remembers the lead investigator vividly telling her she is not guilty but has been “singled out to carry the cross for her bank”.
“He told me, it doesn’t matter what you say to me, I am continuing with this prosecution even though I know you didn’t commit this,” Njoroge recounted.
She asked to give a bribe for the case to be thrown out, but she didn’t, which landed her in prison.
She described Lang’ata as “Kempinski ya majela when we compare it with other women prisons in the country”.
Njoroge’s says the government compensated her for wrongful incarceration, but it was not anything close to what she lost in the eight months behind bars.
After losing her job and battling stigma for being a ‘jailbird’, she started “Clean Start,” an organization that helps re-integrate ex-convicts into society.