Paralegal: lang'ata women's prison
My name is Pauline E. Njeri. I am 59 years old and I would say that I am generous, open-minded and polite.
I want to get married, write a book, and practice my skills as a paralegal and preferably become a lawyer.
APP has given me an opportunity to tap into my innate desire to help other people. A desire that I have held all my entire life.
As a result of attaining basic legal skills here at the Lang’ata Remand Section, I have set out to assist other inmates who are still at Pre-Trial solve their case numerous amounts of time. I wake up every morning at 4am, take a cold bath, do my morning prayers that includes saying one rosary and by 7am I am serving others with Uji (porridge). After that, I take my own breakfast or commonly known as “mukuru”. At 8.30 am, I pack my files and set out for my work station at the mess where I start attending to my inmate client.
I start by doing interviews to ascertain what happened during arrest and get them to fill out their bio data. Then after, I go on to get their charge sheet, witness statements, first reports. This is to start looking and to evaluate their case.
From this experience of being a paralegal - I have gained more control of my life, I am a better listener, I am more empathetic toward those other inmate and what we are all going through. My circumstances are that I still have cases to attend to, but this time round I am patient with myself and have hope that my life has still more meaning.
Recently, in December, I worked on two cases that brought me so much joy that for me it seemed like God had decided to grant me the ‘perfect Christmas gift’
One case involved Mary Atieno Ogenga. She was charged with being in possession of fake currency and implements, and count two was stealing contrary to section 268 (1) as read with section 281 of the penal code.
The case was hopeless in that all the exhibits were in police custody and there was no loophole in the case. I advised my client to make a plea-bargain whereby she agreed to do so, and on my advice and instructions, we came out with a plea agreement that was taken to court on the 11th of December 2017.
Later that day, Mary was released unconditionally by the sitting magistrate in Kibera Law Courts. I was overjoyed to learn of her release and since she was seven months pregnant, I couldn’t help but feel so happy that the unborn child would be now born in an environment other than prison.
The other success story was the case of Jackline Konzolo - who had been charged with her being in possession of illicit brew in large quantities. She also happened to be an alcoholic. I succeeded in her case because I simply became determined to be patient with her. At the end of the case, I advised her to change her plea to that of guilty and did her mitigation.
On the 15th of December 2017, she was released by her trial magistrate unconditionally. I was elated. This has taught me that everyone who finds themselves in prison has a chance to live a better life. I need to be committed in order to achieve more results. There are more success stories that I have in this month of January and will be submitting my final monthly report.
The one single thing that I miss the most since I came to remand prison is being in the presence of my mother - who is 90 years old this year 2018. I would leave work on Saturday afternoon and head for my upcountry home where I was born.
I would find mother cooking lunch for me - us. She would be in her last stages of mashing the “mukimo” that is to be accompanied by the chicken stew. In more weekends, I would be accompanied by my younger brother Phillip who I love very much. We would spend the whole afternoon together, and when it got late, Philip would leave for his house, leaving me and mum to spend the evening together. We would stay until midnight and then we would sleep on her bed. I would leave home for town the following day on Sunday - happy and feeling like a little child. Very happy memories of my mother and me.
Before I was arrested, I used to own a private employment agency that used to do foreign contract of service. Jobs abroad. It was accredited by the Ministry of Labour and my office was situated in Nairobi South District in a building known as Southgate Centre in South ‘B’.
I miss going for swimming, gym, church activities e.g. singing in the choir. I also miss the A.A programme of recovery, and gardening, especially my own plants and flowers that I loved so much. I miss cooking my own meals and experimenting with new recipes.
Given another lifetime - I would read law and become the best mother to my children. I miss my two grandchildren, David Kimani and Margaret Wangari. I miss my own daughter, Catherine Wanjiru.
I am looking forward to having my to remaining case files concluded and determined by the Makadara Law Courts. Case File #3783/14 is on a defence hearing on the 22nd of February 2018. The Case File #5572/14 is at the last witness hearing on the 1st of March 2018. Since August 2014, I have had 5 cases concluded and determined by the courts and thanks to my encounter with the wonderful APP team who have since given me so much support and encouragement on how to deal with the complex criminal justice system to solve my case files.
Thank you and God bless you so much.