Award-winning author and Standard Media Group journalist Tony Mochama who was earlier this week awarded Ksh 9 million for defamation in a sexual harassment suit has opened up on how the claims ruined his life.
In a candid interview with Nation, Mochama, popularly known as Smitta, opened up on how he became a trending topic in a matter of minutes for the wrong reasons after two women accused him of sexual harassment, turning his life upside-down.
Mochama, popularly known as Smitta revealed that the claims which surfaced on Twitter in 2014 saw his wife of three years walk out of their marriage after Ms Wambui Mwangi and Ms Shailja Patel took to Twitter, accusing him of sexual harassment.
Mochama found himself in the thick of things with the hash tag #StopTonyMochama trending and the public piled pressure for action to be taken against him.
His life turned upside down with his employer demanding answers even as his social networks began to shrink and opportunities became scarce.
“My wife left me three weeks into the storm of the scandal, partially out of pressure… and out of community embarrassment,” Mr Mochama told the Sunday Nation.
“Following the accusations, I was dropped like a hot potato,” he said.
“I have been shunned by local literary people and groups, even at social gatherings,” added the scribe.
Smitta confirmed that the scandal saw Kwani? Trust stop distributing his books with Binyavanga (Wainaina) leading the protests.
“Storymoja disassociated itself with me, yet we had had a great seven-year relationship.” Smitta revealed.
Lost opportunities and justice at last
With his name making headlines for the wrong reasons, the author also lost countless chances of facilitating literary workshops globally.
He was also dropped from being a moderator for AMKA Creative Workshops for the rest of that year since it involves working with young women.
In a bid to clear his name and redeem his image, he filed the suit through his lawyer, Felix Mutua, as the police saw no reason to press charges.
After 15 months of waiting, justice was finally served this week with Magistrate A. Obura stating that there was no evidence that Mochama molested or sexually assaulted the two women.
“There was no concrete evidence that the plaintiff ever molested or sexually assaulted the defendants at the respective time they allege,” read the court document.
The court also ordered the two women to apologise to Mochama through the court within 14 days and awarded him Ksh 9 million for defamation.