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Families’ agony over jailed sons

It has been three difficult years since Zainab Hamid’s son was arrested and put into a Ugandan prison.

Mohamed Hamid was on August 13, 2010, heading to his South C home when policemen seized him.

He has since been held at the Luzira Maximum Prison from where he attends trial for suspicion of being involved in an al-Shabaab terror attack that killed 74 people.

Ms Zainab, 60, said his incarceration has been a heavy burden for the family. Mohamed’s wife and four children, unable to feed themselves have since left their house and moved in with her in Ayany house at Kibra.

“My son was the family’s sole breadwinner. Apart form monetary strain, we have since undergone untold suffering in the form of extreme psychological torture and inhumane treatment by both the police and the public,” said the elderly woman, fighting back tears.

She said constant harassment from the police has driven the family to seek counselling services for Mohamed’s four children.

Despite the huge financial burden thrust upon her aging shoulders, Ms Zainab has managed to visit her son at the prison once every month. On two occasions, she has managed to take her grandchildren with her to see their father.

Each trip has left her Sh50,000 poorer, but for a mother, she said it was a price worth paying.

Shoddy probe

The grandmother insisted that her son was innocent of the terrorism charges levelled against him. He was, she asserted, a victim of shoddy investigations by the police.

The reality has forced her to shoulder responsibilities she never thought she would have to at her age.

Right now she is marshalling funds to take Mohamed’s 13-year-old daughter Zainab Mohamed, has just sat her Kenya Certificate of Primary Education exam, to secondary school.

Also faced with a similar burden is Aisha Suleiman.

The arrest of her three brothers, she said has caused the family untold suffering, both financially and emotionally.

Her brothers Yahya Suleiman Mbuthia, 44, an engineer and a father of two daughters aged 17 and 11 years, Habib Suleiman Njoroge, 32 father to a six-year-old son and Hijar Suleiman Nyamandodo, 35 and father of a seven-year- old son are held at the same prison.

“We live in constant fear of being hounded by the police,” said Aisha.

The family organises a trip to Uganda every six weeks, each trip costing at least Sh15,500 which does not come easy for the family.

Like Mohamed’s children, Suleiman’s daughters have suffered depression.