Apologise before we discuss pay for defamation, magistrate tells MP

Mumias East MP Peter Salasya. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

A magistrate has written to Mumias East MP Peter Kalerwa Salasya (PK) demanding that he deletes threatening and defamatory material he posted against her before they discuss the amount he should pay for defaming her.

Kakamega resident magistrate Gladys Wambui Kiamah, also an adjudicate of the station’s small claims court (SCC), says in the letter that the MP took to social media to threaten and ruin her reputation after she gave a decision deemed unfavourable by Salasya. 

The letter received Wednesday afternoon at the Mumias East Constituency MP's office demands among other things that Salasya stops intimidating the magistrate and place an apology on the media platforms he allegedly used to defame her after she delivered the November 27 judgment ordering the MP to pay some Sh500,000 he'd refused to Robert Lutta. 

“We have firm instructions to demand from you that you immediately stop intimidations and threats to our client (Ms Kiamah). You, within two hours of your receipt of this letter, pull down the defamatory posts, audio and video clips, and articles published on all your social media accounts or pages concerning our client,” reads the letter signed by the magistrate's lawyer Ronald Khavagali from the Khavagali and Kadima law firm. 

It goes on to demand from the MP that, “You publish on all your social media accounts or platforms a retraction and apology, in terms to be approved by us on our client’s behalf, in the like manner and like medium you used in publishing the highly defamatory posts, video and audio clips, and articles complained of. For the avoidance of doubt, this must include video and audio clips recorded by yourself.” 

The advocates want the first-time lawmaker to undertake in writing that he will not repeat the publication of defamatory allegations concerning the magistrate and that once he fully complies with the demands they would “address the issue of damages."

They fear the defamatory posts by the MP with a humongous following on social media risk portraying the judicial officer as “a conduit being used by some advocates and other persons to bring the MP down politically."

“In their ordinary and literal meaning as understood by a reasonable bystander, a man on Embassava bus to Eastlands of Nairobi, the words purvey our client as an irrational judicial officer who uses extraneous factors other than evidence and pleadings of the parties to determine the matters before her and in particular your case,” reads the demand letter. 

“As a judicial officer who hops from one restaurant to another meeting advocates to auction, hawk justice on the matters that are before her.”

The demand also wished that Salasya could have explored the right of appeal if he felt dissatisfied with the SCC decision rather than go on social media to threaten and taint the name of their client. 

The demand seeking the civil settlement comes even as the Kakamega Police Station is investigating a criminal case against the MP who recorded a statement on December 4 against a complaint of issuing death threats to Ms Kiama who personally filed the report to the station’s DCI department. 

The MP also faces a civil suit filed against him by Kakamega lawyer Edwin Wafula who represented Mr Lutta in the SCC case that went against Salasya. 

In the case filed at the Kakamega law court on November 3, Wafula seeks general and punitive damages over ‘degrading’ words Salasya used against him which he claims injured his standing in society. 

“The plaintiff (Wafula) avers that on November 2, 2023, at around 6 pm, he went to an establishment within Kakamega Town, Vovo, in the company of friends to have coffee when Salasya confronted him and verbally started hurling insults at him in Swahili,” reads his court papers filed by lawyer Derek Mango.

The lawyer, who also wants Salasya to pay for the cost of the case, said the MP continued with the insults prompting the restaurant’s management to politely order him out for breaching the prevailing peace.

Wafula says around 7.30 pm on the same day (November 2, 2023) he, alongside his friends, decided to relocate to another restaurant, Vault, within Kakamega Town but the MP again, cut in on him with another round of defamatory Swahili insults. 

The lawyer says in his affidavit that he was so disturbed by the implications of the words that tainted his reputation and had no option but to sue the MP who is yet to file a defence after being served with court papers.

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