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Nairobi’s police cells stinking

The condition of police cells in Nairobi is not anywhere close to what the much hyped reforms in the service seek to achieve.

In the words of Kevin Njugi, 22, who spent the night of Saturday September 21 at Kasarani police cells, the place is inhabitable.

He was arrested on accusations of inciting rugby fans to violence.

“I was welcomed by the pungent smell of urine. The stench became stronger as I was being bundled in by the officers. The place is poorly ventilated,” he told NairobiNews.

He said most of these rooms he referred to as dungeons lack basic amenities.

According to him, this makes those who’ve been to the places strive to bribe their way out rather than wait for their day in the dock.

“You may play hard before getting in but the moment you’re there, you become desperate enough to consider ‘talking’ to the officer on night duty to let you go,” he added.

There are several other varying tales by individuals who have been in for a night or more but at the bottom line, it turns out that save for one or two police stations in the city, they are all in horrible condition.

No one who has been there wants to be ‘guest of the State’ again.

David Orengo, who has spent a night at Central police Station, says the thought of being hurled in a cell makes one sick.

“Apart from mosquitoes making a feast of you, there are those inmates who are always ready to beat any newcomer. They call this orientation. The police do not seem to care at all,” he says.

It is possible some detainees are sexually molested because the cubicles are always overcrowded, he adds.

Conditions at Kamukunji, Central, and Buruburu police stations are more or less the same.

During his long night at Kasarani, Njugi says there were more than 20 people in a tiny cubicle.

“There was only one door into the cells, so you can imagine what happens in case of an emergency like fire. What makes things even more dire is that it is dark throughout the night,” he says.

In most of these cells, detainees are provided with buckets to ease themselves. Unfortunately, a container can stay up to 10 hours in a cell before being taken for disposal.

It is only Kileleshwa Police Station in Kilimani that stands out. It has been known to provide blankets to inmates.


Kilimani OCPD Peter Kattam says the station has all time running water and other basic facilities, making it a great attraction to suspects.