Famed journalist and caricature artist Tony Mochama has just had a victorious day in court after two women’s claims for alleged sexual assault were found to lack circumstantial evidence.
The two women identified as Shalja Patel and Wambui Mwangi who are also writers invited Mochama for a meeting at where they alleged he sexually assaulted Patel. According to Tuko, “Shalja claimed Mochama sexually molested her during a lunch meeting at Wambui’s house situated in Nairobi’s Loresho estate in September 2014.”
Since the allegations went public thanks to a trending hashtag on Twitter, Mochama has had a long road to clearing his name of the heinous allegations which saw his reputation suffer serious damage due to the claims of the two women. In 2015, Smitta sought justice in court, seeking to clear his name as the smear campaign even threatened his livelihood with his employers threatening to fire him. Tuko reported, “in his suit, the journalist famously known as Smita Smitter Smitten accused the two feminists of running a smear campaign against him… Senior Principal Magistrate Margaret Obura noted there was no concrete evidence to prove the suspect ever molested or sexually assaulted Shalja nor Wambui.” The ruling will see Mochama receive an apology within 14 days and 9 million in damages from winning the defamation case. Smitta’s truimph has shed light on the sincerity of various sexual assault claims made by women. Sadly, some may not truly know the effects that false claims may have on a life. Various social media users in the Twittersphere have condemned the duo and have congratulated Smitta for his win.
One user wrote: “We talk here every day about how hard it is for victims of sexual violence to speak out, get help, and even get justice. I’ll not be dropping statistics because it’s all been done before. I just wish y’all went as hard for victims as you are for Tony Mochama.”
Another tweep went on to apologize for the online crucifixion of Mochama when the allegations first arose. He wrote: “so I spoke out about a rape allegation 5yrs ago and it turned out to be false. it breaks my heart that anyone would lie about such a thing. to Tony Mochama, I’m so sorry for what you’ve been going through and I hope that you get the justice you deserve.” On the other hand, one user pointed out that Mochama’s story is a chance to learn about the responsibility of social media users in vilify various individuals. @Wekelee wrote, “This Tony Mochama story simply shows how one must not: be quick to pick sides, be judgmental esp when you do not know exactly what happened and most important do not fight your battles on the internet as it never forgets.”
If there is one thing we can all learn from Mochama’s win is the important of the legal principle. Presumption of innocence is essential, “Innocent until proven guilty.”