Mochama sues Shailja Patel and Professor Wambui Mwangi for defamation
Nairobi, Tuesday March 24th, 2015
A third woman has reported Standard Group journalist and PEN Kenya Secretary General Tony Mochama to Nairobi’s Central Police Station for alleged sexual assault. The alleged assault occurred on September 21st 2014, at the National Museum, during the Westgate Memorial Service of Storymoja Hay Festival. The OB Number is 74/17/3/2015.
Mr Mochama was investigated by the CID, for an alleged indecent act against author Shailja Patel on September 20th, 2014. The file has been transferred to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. The alleged assault occurred at a lunch meeting at the home of Professor Wambui Mwangi. The meeting was to discuss the business of the Africa Poetry Book Fund with the Fund’s founder, Professor Kwame Dawes, who was visiting Kenya for the Storymoja Hay Festival.
A second woman reported alleged assault by Mr Mochama to Central Police Station on October 31st, 2014, under OB Number 49/B1/10/14.
Police are urging other victims of alleged assault by Mr Mochama to also report to police stations in the jurisdictions where the crimes may have occurred. There is no statute of limitations on crimes under the Sexual Offenses Act.
Mr Mochama has filed a civil lawsuit against Ms Patel and Professor Mwangi alleging defamation. Wangechi Wachira, Executive Director of CREAW (Centre for Rights, Education and Awareness) said: “This is a desperate attempt by Mr Mochama to silence victims and witnesses of his alleged crimes, and to create a chilling climate for free speech in Kenya. It will fail. Victims of sexual violence have every right to publicize their experiences and to seek help. Free speech is protected under Article 33 (1) of the Constitution.”
The woman reporting said: “I didn’t report the assault when it occurred because I had serious concerns about personal, social and professional repercussions. I’m reporting now because I believe Mr Mochama will continue abusing women unless stopped by the law. I don’t want any other woman or girl to suffer the same experience.”
Storymoja Hay Festival Director, Muthoni Garland, said: “That some of these alleged assaults happened at Storymoja events is so painful to hear. But it underlines that we all share the shame and must be part of the solution, particularly the need to promote enforcement of the hard-fought Sexual Offences Act. For taking the incredibly brave step of reporting the assaults to the police, I really commend Shailja Patel and the two other women who have come forward. It is not a lightly-made decision given the public interest and its potential to damage reputations.”
Cidi Otieno, Convenor of CCI (Coalition for Constitution Implementation) said: “Nothing can compensate our sisters for the violations, the stripping of their personal sovereignty, the theft of their privacy and dignity. They and their families bear lifelong costs – personal, professional, social and political – of reporting the crime. Their constitutional rights to freedom of movement and assembly, pursuit of livelihood, and full participation in public life have been, and continue to be, violated. Sexual violence rips apart the fabric of Ubuntu. The charging of Mr Mochama will not erase his defamation, threats and graphic insults to our sisters on his media platforms. But it will be a groundbreaking step towards dismantling the culture of impunity for sexual violence. The Constitution that Kenyan women fought and died for must now deliver its promise of full humanity for women and girls.”
- Centre for Rights Education and Awareness ( CREAW)
- Coalition on Violence Against Women
- Coalition for Constitution Implementation
- Kimbilio Trust
- The Co- Convenors of the Africa Unite Campaign to End Violence against Women
- The Kenyan Ambassador :- Africa Unite Campaign
- Betty Kaari Murungi, High Court Advocate
- L. Muthoni Wanyeki, political scientist
Centre for Rights, Education and Awareness (CREAW)