A Broken Hill man jailed in Africa for overstaying his visa has slammed the Australian Embassy in Kenya as “pretty useless”.
Father of three, Darren Flowers, has been forced to leave his Kenyan-born wife Anne and their children in Africa while he drives taxis to raise money to fund their return to Australia.
“The Australian Embassy in Kenya is pretty useless,” Mr Flowers told Andrew Schmidt during an interview for ABC999 Broken Hill’s Morning Program Outback Outlook.
“They were contacted and someone turned up at court just to make sure I was all right and that was it.
“Then they disappeared.
“They spoke to Anne and she explained the story and they left without contacting me personally,” Mr Flowers continued.
Since returning to Australia Mr Flowers has had no contact from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.
Trouble began for Mr Flowers went he tried to leave Kenya last month.
“I tried to leave on the day the Westgate Mall terror attack happened and because of that the security had been beefed up and when I went through passport control they noticed that my visa had expired and they said I wasn’t allowed to leave the country,” Mr Flowers explained.
“They advised me to go to Immigration House … and went I went there I was arrested for overstaying my visa.
“It is $US50 visa fee for three months and if you overstay you can normally pay another $US50 and that’s it,” Mr Flowers added.
Arrested and passport confiscated
But on this occasion his passport was confiscated and he was released into the custody of his wife because she is a Kenyan citizen.”The next morning I returned to Immigration House and was immediately handcuffed and I realised then this was something serious,” Mr Flowers recalled.
“I was put into a prison bus and we were driven to the courthouse where we were placed into a cell with quite a few others.
“It was a bit daunting because I was the only Caucasian.
“I was sitting there next to murderers, rapists and fraudsters and they called me up.
“I pleaded guilty because I had overstayed my visa and I was fined 200,000 Kenyan shillings – which is equivalent to about $2500 – or spend eight months in jail.
“That didn’t really appeal to me,” Mr Flowers continued.
While his wife arranged the money to pay the fine, Mr Flowers was put back into the lock-up for another nine hours.
Jailers wanted bribes to help
“The interesting thing was that while I waited – and because I was Caucasian – every single jailer asked me for a bribe to help the process along.”One guy said I must be rich because I could afford $2500 and he wanted some whiskey.
“Another guy said he wanted money to feed his children.
“Just because of the color of your skin they just automatically think you must be wealthy,” Mr Flowers continued.
With his wife and three children – George (11), Zahrina (2) and Zander (nine months) – stranded in Kenya, Mr Flowers is now desperately raising enough money to bring them back to Australia.
“I’m actually driving cabs every night – from 5pm to 5am – to raise the money,” Mr Flowers revealed.
“It’s pretty tough being apart from them, but we speak regularly (via the internet) and my wife sends photos regularly.”
Despite the ordeal Mr Flowers says he will go back to Africa and would recommend Kenya as a holiday destination.
“I’ll go back and I’d recommend to anyone who wants to take a holiday in Africa to go to Kenya because it is a beautiful country,” he said.
“The people are really nice – except Nairobi.
“Don’t go to Nairobi.”