AUTHORS NOTE: DUE TO THREATS, SOME ALLEGED VICTIMS’ NAMES ARE ALTERED TO PROTECT THEIR TRUE IDENTITY.
Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) has called for new charges and the arrest of former youth basketball coach and disgraced journalist Philip Onyango Ombajo.
“It is in the interest of justice that he be charged with the offense of sexual harassment among other offenses,” lawyers from Lumallas, Achieng, and Kavere Advocates (LAK), representing Joy Mupalia, said.
In the letter dated September 27th, LAK, acting on FIDA’s behalf, said they have evidence that justifies reopening the case against Ombajo, popularly known by his middle name Onyango.
“We have since received new information that we believe may be useful in getting him (Onyango) charged appropriately,” the letter signed by LAK said. “Further, we have since been approached by several other ladies who are willing to testify against him and to report their ordeals under his hand.”
One of the witnesses FIDA may be referring to is Solara (Not her real name), who spoke with us in our last report. Solara revealed Onyango and her are relatives, yet he allegedly attempted to rape her more than a decade ago.
Onyango allegedly often took in relatives and connected them with scholarships and promised them opportunities to play basketball abroad. He also housed some of them at his Mombasa home.
The girls were mostly sent to Shimba Hills School and Kaya Tiwi High School, where Onyango coached basketball for various years.
Solara’s is the first allegation of incest against Onyango. Section 20-21 of the Kenyan Sexual Offenses Act of 2006 says a person found guilty of incest shall be jailed for at least ten years. If the victim is a minor under 18, the accused person shall be imprisoned for life.
“I’m ready to fight for my justice and the other girls’ (justice),” Solara said. “I’m ready to talk so we can find justice.”
Onyango allegedly threatened Solara and followed through by making it difficult for her to advance herself academically.
The threats could qualify Solara to earn a vulnerable witness classification under section 31 of the 2006 Sexual Offenses Act, granting her extra protections to testify against Onyango.
Onyango did not respond to a request for comment regarding the allegations.
Mupalia has welcomed the new development in the case.
“Justice should be served for all of us. He should be arrested. He has destroyed our lives,” Mupalia said.
She encouraged more victims to step forward.
“They should come out and end this,” Mupalia said. “They should not be scared because there are people supporting them.”
Mupalia accused Onyango of attempted rape on July 3rd at a Nairobi hotel, but the prosecutor dismissed the case citing insufficient evidence.
If the prosecutor agrees to bring new charges against Onyango, it will open the floodgates for more alleged victims dating as far back as 3 decades ago to come forward.
One alleged victim said since Onyango believed he never gave favors for free, she wouldn’t be surprised if the number of Onyango’s alleged victims hit several hundred.
“Imagine if he was doing this (alleged sexual harassment) to 15 girls a year. How many are those in 30 years?” Kanini (not her real name) asked rhetorically.
In a previous interview, Onyango denied any wrongdoing.
Lumallas is hoping the prosecutor will reopen the case and allow justice to take the course.
“Our instructions are to seek your prompt intervention in this matter, for further investigating, re-arresting the accused and preferring appropriate charges against him,” the letter from LAK, Lumallas’ office stated.
If found guilty of sexual harassment, Onyango could face at least 3 years in prison, but that could be just the beginning of his woes. FIDA, through LAK lawyers, is also looking at adding more charges against him, and more alleged victims emboldened by the charges, might step forward.
Despite the letter, the prosecutor still holds the key to whether Onyango will be arrested and prosecuted afresh.
NOTE: SPECIAL THANKS TO ALL IN KENYA WHO HAVE HELPED ME TO INVESTIGATE AND WRITE THESE REPORTS. I MAY NOT BE ABLE TO MENTION YOU BY NAME BECAUSE OF THE RISKS INVOLVED, BUT I THANK YOU.
STAY TUNED FOR MORE REPORTS ON THIS MATTER.