Comedian Eric Omondi along with 15 others, found themselves in an unusual predicament on Friday when they were convicted and handed a one-month prison sentence. However, they were given the option to pay a fine of KSh10,000 as an alternative to serving time behind bars.
Their conviction stemmed from their involvement in an unlawful assembly, where they had been protesting against the exorbitant cost of living. Milimani Chief Magistrate Lukas Onyina delivered the guilty verdict after Omondi and his co-accused had a change of heart and pleaded guilty.
Magistrate Onyina took several factors into consideration before delivering the sentence, stating, “I have considered the mitigation presented, the nature of the offence as a misdemeanour, and the fact that the prosecution has confirmed they are first-time offenders.” He continued, “I have also taken into account that they have spared the court valuable judicial time. Therefore, each of the suspects is hereby fined KSh10,000. Failure to pay will result in a one-month jail term.”
During their plea for leniency, the convicted individuals argued that they had intended to draw attention to the burdensome cost of living and requested that the court not impose an overly harsh punishment. They emphasized the importance of safeguarding the rights of activists and preventing them from being deterred by the weight of the law, saying, “Your Honor, please show us leniency so as not to discourage other advocates for human rights, who might otherwise be afraid of facing the full force of the law.”
The list of defendants included Omondi himself, along with Peter Mukundi, Elisha Ochieng, Felix Ikutwa, Frank Misango, Alpha Juma, Cyril Isindu, Bonface Bahati, William Leshinka, Walder Sisulu, Philip Kiura, Ken Ndula, Mbwaya Mwale, Duncan Wafula, Rodgers Livoi, and Wyclif Ligano. Their charges dated back to February 21, 2023.
Furthermore, the court granted them a 14-day window to appeal the sentence if they found it unsatisfactory.