“Simon Lokwachelia, who spent a quarter-century behind bars after being convicted for five counts of violent robbery by a Nanyuki Court, has finally been released as a free man. Lokwachelia, now 49, emerged from Rumuruti GK Prison on Sunday after a persistent legal battle to have his sentence reconsidered.
Back on April 13, 2000, Lokwachelia was found guilty of the charges by Nanyuki’s then Senior Resident Magistrate S.M. Kibunja, leading to his lengthy incarceration as he sought to appeal the verdict.
His arrest took place in 1998 in Nanyuki, with the charges stemming from incidents he claims no knowledge of. At the time of his arrest, he was en route to meet his girlfriend, who he planned to marry. Having accepted a ride from a car at Gatundia trading center, accompanied by a friend, Lokwachelia was unaware that the vehicle was stolen and pursued by Nanyuki investigators. Upon reaching Subukia trading center, his companions exited the car, leaving him inside just as security officers arrived with firearms drawn, leading to his arrest.
Despite his surrender, he couldn’t provide any information about his companions’ whereabouts, as he had no knowledge of their criminal status. This marked the beginning of his long legal battle, which concluded in 2019 when his appeals were heard by Justice H.P.B Waweru. The death sentences were commuted to a 35-year prison term for the five counts, to be served concurrently according to section 296 (2) of the Penal Code. This sentence was effective from the initial sentencing date of April 13, 2000.
Having finally gained his freedom after years of fighting for his innocence, Lokwachelia now emerges as a resilient individual, equipped with a Grade-1 Mechanical Engineering qualification.
Upon his release from Rumuruti GK Prison, Lokwechelia expressed his happiness at returning home to Kinamba-Sosian village in Laikipia. He noticed significant changes in the surroundings since his incarceration.
The Deputy Officer in charge of the prison, Senior Superintendent of Prisons (SSP) Justus Akhanyinya, urged the local community to offer support and understanding to their convicted relatives. He emphasized that ex-convicts should not face discrimination but instead be aided in reconnecting with their families after release. Akhanyinya called on residents to contribute to the rehabilitation and betterment of former prisoners’ lives upon reintegration into society.
He highlighted that the government is providing inmates with various vocational skills during their incarceration, facilitating a smoother transition upon their release.”