Court acquits musician DeMathew over anti-Raila song


A musician charged with hate speech over a controversial song he produced ahead of the last General Election has been acquitted.

Mr John Ng’ang’a aka John DeMathew had been charged with producing a song that bordered on hate speech against the former Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

A court Friday declared that the prosecution “did not present enough evidence to link the singer to hate speech as alleged,” and dropped all charges.

The case was terminated before Senior Principal magistrate Elena Nderitu.

The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) had recommended that the singer be charged and jailed for a term not exceeding three years, or pay a fine Sh1 million or both.

DeMathew had denied that ‘Wituete Hiti’ song, translated to mean, ‘You have made yourself a Hyena’, was inciting and amounted to hate speech.

In his defence, he said the translations were out of context and had missed the point of his song.

The NCIC had applied that the songs be banned from being aired on local radio stations.

On Friday, a jovial DeMathew said he would endeavour to sing songs that unite Kenyans in future.

“I will continue to sing songs of unity and be an ambassador of peace,’ he told reporters outside the Milimani law courts after his acquittal.

The court Friday ordered that the Sh100,000 cash bail he deposited as surety be returned to him.

He had been charged alongside two other musicians Muigai Wa Njoroge and Kamande Wa Kioi whose cases had since been dropped after striking a deal with the NCIC.

The musicians’ lawyer Gichuki Kingara said it was wrong to apply a “criminal interpretation to artistic works.”

The NCIC in its case had said that the musicians composed songs that were full of metaphors and references to Kikuyu mythology and could be interpreted as “insulting and threatening.”

The lyrics, according to NCIC, posed questions about what to do if, for example, someone took you to The Hague or takes your wife or property with an accompanying chorus reply “kill him.”

Musician John Ng'ang'a, also known as John DeMathew, had been charged with producing a song that bordered on hate speech against the former Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

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