Rehab Nightmare: Drugs, Chains and Canes – Full Documentary – BBC Africa Eye

Rehab Nightmare: Drugs, Chains and Canes – Full Documentary – BBC Africa Eye


Eastleigh in Nairobi, Kenya. Business is booming for traditional, religious healers. They cater for Somalis from around the world
who want to get closer to their culture and roots. But Africa Eye investigates a form of religious
healing gone badly wrong. I have seen clients have broken arms. We have to get some to hospital
because of the kind of violence. By going undercover at an Islamic Drug Rehab
Centre, where the clients are first kidnapped… I see two police officers in a car. I didn’t know what they wanted. As soon as I went in the middle they handcuffed me. … and then tortured. When a person gets depressed because of
the kind of torture he is going through, he cannot talk to anyone, he has no life left in him. Eastleigh, a neighbourhood in the Kenyan
capital Nairobi, known as Little Mogadishu because it’s home to so many Somalis. And it’s a global hub for the
Islamic healing industry. I’m going to try it out for myself. I’ve paid this traditional healer a hundred
dollars to get rid of my pain. Koranic readings performed by religious Sheiks,
aim to remove the evil eye or exorcise demons. And they’re in high demand. In Eastleigh alone, this new, growing industry
is worth an estimated $10 million dollars a year. While these Koranic readers might
put a dent in their clients’ wallets, that’s the worst damage they do. But some of Eastleigh’s religious healers
are running rehabilitation centres for the treatment of drug abuse or mental illness. And I’ve received reports that men and
women are held against their will and physically abused in these centres. Some families think the best way to rehabilitate
their children is to lock them up. But some of these parents don’t know exactly what happens in these rehab centres because
these rehab centres are run by religious figures we call Sheiks, and these sheiks are
usually trusted within the community. As a Somali and practicing Muslim, I’ve come
to Nairobi to investigate these rehab centres. It’s very difficult to gain access to these centres,
but one of them did agree to let us film inside. Sheik Hussein founded Mustaqim two years ago. That is a CCTV camera. Barbed wire. Through another bolted door is
the main complex and yard. We get to see that medicine in action. The Sheik and his assistants read the Koran
to this young man from overseas. The idea is to push the demons out of his soul. But then the Sheikh refers to a more
aggressive form of treatment. As we are packing up, a group of women call out to me. They say that far from taking drugs, their
only crime is to have fallen out with husbands or relatives, who have paid for
them to be imprisoned here. Nearly all of these women are mothers
with children on the outside. They all said we want to get out of here, but we can’t. The longer we are, the more money
the rehab people will make. The Sheik walks over and the women fall silent. While these womens’ claims are deeply worrying,
we have heard even worse reports of abuse coming from other rehab centres in Eastleigh. One of those is called Darushifa – and we’ve
found a member of staff willing to speak out about what happens inside. Ben Njega works as an addiction
counsellor at Darushifa. He recounts his first day in the job with horror. I thought it was like torture, a torture chamber. Clients were locked up in rooms. The rooms
were dark. There was no ventilation. But despite being appalled by what he saw,
Ben decided to keep on working at the centre, hoping he could eventually improve
conditions for the clients. I made very serious recommendations, written down. But Ben says the owners ignored
him and the abuse continued. It was a constant fight, a constant fight,
a constant fight. He says most of the men locked up in Darushifa
aren’t even addicted to hard drugs. This is people with just a normal mental health
issue, a drug problem maybe smoking cannabis and because its not allowed in the religion,
they decided to lock them up and categorise them as dangerous. Ben has also privately reported the centre
to the police and the Kenyan government’s rehab regulator, NACADA. Individuals from NACADA have come to
the centre and we have explained, in detail, what happens and then they go. And reports to the police have been made. Nothing has been done, they just turn a blind eye. Left with no other authority to call on, Ben
has agreed to film undercover at the centre. You want people to be in your shoes and see it. – Yes, see it, see it. When I show it to you, then you will understand. We equip Ben with a secret camera. We also ask him to record regular
video diaries while undercover. Just as we saw in Mustaqim, a religious teacher at Darushifa also performs
Koran readings on his clients. On Ben’s first day filming, a
new arrival is brought in. Ali. His mother says Ali has been having problems
with school and is into drugs. She’s paying the centre 500 US Dollars a
month to turn her son’s life around. Ben speaks to Ali to find out more. The centre has already
conducted a drug test on Ali. No traces of narcotics were found. It’s 10 pm the same day and four Darushifa
guards are doing their rounds. They’re forcing some of the inmates
to drink a liquid called harmala. Seconds after drinking, it makes them vomit violently and seems to be used as a form of punishment. After finishing with these men,
they turn their attention to Ali. He’s prevented from leaving by
a guard holding a rubber whip. The guards surround Ali. He has no choice but to drink. Ali gives in and drinks the harmala and then vomits. A few minutes later, weeping, he
pleads for the ordeal to end. Badly shaken, Ali is finally led out by another patient. That night, Ben hands over the day’s footage. He’s also smuggled out a sample of the Harmala
solution, so that we can send it for testing. The following morning, I visit a traditional
herbalist to find out more. At Darushifa, the staff produce a concentrated
solution from harmala seeds, which have been used as a herbal
medicine for thousands of years. They claim it detoxifies drug addicts, but
those who drink it, suffer hallucinations, terrible chest pains and severe vomiting. Our lab tests on the centre’s harmala solution
have revealed that a full cup contains one hundred times the recommended dose for an adult, which could be enough to kill. I have been investigating Islamic
rehab centres in Eastleigh, Nairobi. We have gone undercover to expose evidence
of systemic physical abuse at one: Darushifa. The next day, two guards are once again
trying to force Ali to drink harmala. Like every new arrival at the centre,
his hair is completely shaved off. One of the security team then picks
up a rubber rod and joins in. He himself was also once a patient here, but
now has been elevated to a full time guard. Ali is handed a full cup of harmala. But Ali appears to have had enough and starts
to resist despite the threat of violence. Two of the guards high five each other. Then the beating continues. The guards proceed to beat Ali for five minutes without pause. It turns out two of the men who have
been picking on Ali all day aren’t actually staff. They’re patients. The management gets them to discipline their
fellow inmates in return for favours. They can go and sit in the office, they can
always go out, ask for things like sodas and they can get them. They have a reputation for being
even more vicious than the guards. The clients have already been punished themselves. When they rise to certain positions, they
want to inflict the same kind of pain. So for now we have clients who are sadists
and they want to instil fear upon others so they can rule with an iron fist. One man who knows all about the
brutality at Darushifa is Mohammed Ali. An 18 year old from London. He spent three months inside last year. He says it all began when the police
picked him up off the streets. I see two police officers in a car. I didn’t know what they wanted. I went
inside, they put me in the middle. As soon as I went in the middle they handcuffed me. Then they drove all the way to Darushifa. Me, as a child, I wasn’t in no gangs.
I wasn’t a troublemaker. Back in London, I was in sixth form,
I was applying for college. I actually got accepted and then
I came here for two weeks. Then that’s when the tragedy happened. You say tragedy. What do you mean? Just because my life has gone wrong to be honest. Mohammed found himself subjected
to beatings and forced imprisonment. The same treatment our investigation
has revealed at the centre. If you do any trouble, if you argue, you have
to get beaten up by the watchmen for God. Most of them are severe beatings
because it’s torture basically. Stuck in Nairobi without a job or money, Mohammed can’t return to the UK. So what do you do you just keep quiet? Yeah, you just keep quiet because here the police is different, there’s nothing you can do. Two policemen are at Darushifa’s gate. Ben is there to meet them. But the police aren’t here to investigate
allegations of abuse. Instead, they are dropping off a patient. Hassan, a man in his forties, is
brought out of the car in handcuffs and handed over to the security team. His relatives are paying for this to happen. Ben says it’s a regular occurrence. So this happens, you come to the centre and report that you’ve want a client gotten from your house. The centre organizes for the police
to go and collect the client. So they put him in handcuffs, bring him to
the centre. So, it’s a paid service. An hour later, the new arrival is given his first taste
of the centre’s favourite medicine, harmala. The guards subject the most fragile patients of the centre to the same brutality as everyone else. Even the mentally ill in prison at the
request of their families, aren’t spared. This client was brought in by his brothers. The client has a mental disorder. The guy was given harmala in the evening. The reaction was very bad for him and because they locked him up in the room, he vomited in the room. Guard came in and was angry at him. “Why cant you control yourself?” And they beat him up. The guard seems to be toying
sadistically with his victim. Whatever the man does, it seems
to be a reason to beat him harder. It turns out this particular guard has a strong
motivation to be as violent as possible. He’s on a trial for his job. If the clients fear him then he’s more likely to get the job, trying to increase his salary by being the most atrocious. The incidences of abuse that we have documented
at Darushifa are all crimes under Kenyan law. NACADA is the Kenyan government regulator with the power to shut down rehabilitation centres engaged in criminal acitivity. Judith Twala is its manager of regulatory services. We have heard from people
who work in these rehab centres they have contacted you to give you information on what goes on inside and you have done nothing. – We also need to be careful when we get information. Sometimes it could be malicious information. But any information we get from anybody in
regards to rehabs, we don’t take it lightly. I can assure you. – We know some of these places have been raided several times. Owners arrested but not charged. A week later, they re-open. Why isn’t NACADA
doing enough to stamp out this practice? – It may be that our judicial system has maybe
issues more priorities than this one but I think that we also have a role as an agency, when charges are laid, to up our game in following up. We wrote the local police authority to request a response to allegations of corruption and kidnapping made against its officers. There was no response. We also requested an interview with the owner and executive director of Darushifa, Ahmed Ismail. He dismissed our allegations as just propaganda. While the authorities may be slow to react to
this issue, as a community, we Somalis also need to stop creating the
conditions for abuse to occur. It’s right and good that we want to
preserve our culture and religion, but businessmen who dress up as religious Sheikhs are rarely the answer to complicated problems like mental health and drug use. Paid to make our loved on es better, they
are more likely to make them worse.

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