Simon Mol (Simon Moleke Njie), an exile from Cameroon, was accused of knowingly infecting his sexual partners with HIV and arrested. He is a writer, poet, and creator of an Migrator Theater. He lives in Poland since 1999.
His relations included young women fascinated by his poetry and human rights campaigns. Some of them allegedly informed him about the disease after learning that they were infected: African kind of a virus, with a very aggressive profile. Pharmaceuticals had to be used months after the infection, while normally it takes couple of years before it is necessary.
Monika O., literature student who met with Simon Mol 11 months earlier, contacted the police in November this year.
– I was attracted by journalism, I wanted to write about Migrator Theater – she describes. – I was fascinated by human rights activist fighting with racial stereotypes. Soon we started to meet, went to bed. I didn’t suspect that he could infect me with HIV virus and even less, hide from me that he is infected. I also thought that suspecting him of being infected would equal giving way to stereotypes. Thus we made love unprotected.
Simon Mol on his web page:
Of Life & Death
Life, Death, Life.
Light, Darkness, Light, Darkness;
Nothing Can Stop Nature.
Not even Nature Itself.
Maybe it’s immoral to feel for those affected (exact number unknown) more than for anonymous millions who die in Africa, but I do. They seem young and idealistic types who fell pray to a ruthless abuser. We
emphasize empathize (thx Michal:) with ones that we identify ourselves with, I know.
Added 9th Jan: seems Rzeczpospolita picked the same title as me (but in Polish). New details, more women. Like a sad Almodovar movie. Hypothesis: Mol was infecting women as a way of racial revenge, or a weird african magic ritual: getting healed by passing disease to others.
I read some forums related to the case on the weekend, but not so many blogs. One of the forums was e-teatr (update: removed by administrator), where one of the victims started the thread by posting a warning against Mol in December. Soon the thread became dominated by the aggressive vulgar comments against the victims. I believe everyone can judge their behaviour on his own (even though without knowing the real personal context I would consider such judgement premature), but I can’t understand how you can post such things in the face of a person who is already sentenced to death for what she did.
While the comments mentioned above seem to be driven by hostility due to the fact that Mol is a black, the beatroot blog goes to the other extreme and tries to defend Mol (maybe not defend, but abstract the case into political sphere away from the actual human suffering) regardless of all. Even if I can appreciate taking a stand of a devil’s advocate, again, the message focuses on the culrpit and disregard the victims. In the comments someone notices that the author seems to find Mol suspected of a deed equal to spreading flu, which for me, if proven, would rather amount to a mass murder.
Gniewomir Świechowski notices the comments too and sides with the victims. Mentions the painful question – why it took so long? It was likely known for years that Mol is infected (also to him), yet he was stopped only now.
Added Jan 12th: article about Simon Mol by Rebecca. I link to it because it?s written by someone who knew Simon personally and because it considers an issue of unfortunate impact of this case on attitude towards refugees, which I didn?t mention. As an additional bonus it?s in English.
Speaking of political playing of the issue, a site called The Brussels Journal quoted this article in one of their own titled Leftist Activism.
Added Jan 16th: New report in Gazeta Wyborcza by Jakub Janiszewski from TOK FM. Report mostly through the words of the victims: Beata (22), Sylwia (25), Marta (23), Monika (24).
They make no secret of how their relation started. Article is titled I was attracted by this force within him (my translation sucks for the lack of time). I remain with the feeling that they are guilty of stupidity and being naive, but of nothing else. Throw a stone. I translated the introductions below.
Beata (22): ?He was my first partner. I think I was somehow addicted to him. Why? I don?t know. Maybe I was fascinated by him. Maybe because he knew so much about Africa, and I was interested in this continent? Especially the religion. These beliefs they have, cult. He was to tell me about this and that?s how we met. Through acquintances.?
Sylwia (25): ?I was finishing my studies, didn?t have any job and the voluntary work by Migrator Theater seemed if not great, then at least some kind of option. Thus I came forward and prepared translations. To gain any kind of experience. I remember that initially Simon seemed a guy that no girl would fall for. Neither handsome, nor seducer, just plain. (?) I saw in him some kind of hero, I don?t know..? A fighter? He seemed stronger, better than me. (?) How did it come to this that I, who since being 8 years old knew that one has to protect himself, could go to bed with him and not think about a condom? I can?t come to terms with that to this very day. I was stupid, we were all very stupid.?
Marta (23) describes how she was accidentally approached by Mol while sitting with friends in the street of Warsaw?s old town. ?I saw him walk by. There was some magic to it. Our eyes met and I felt something between us. There was a spark. (?) I am deeply religious person, some say I have no link with reality. At that time maybe I really didn?t have it. I saw everything idealistic way, with no distance. Before Simon I had no other man.?
Monika (24): ?I was interested in Migrator Theater, and consequently, personality of Simon. We met. Went for a beer. Couple of days later he called me and we met at his place. I was undergoing a deep crisis then. My relation with a boyfriend, whom I was dating for a year, had fallen apart. Simon hit at that moment.?
Neither of the interviewees mentions any further chains of infection.
Subtitle: ?The only thing I can do now, is to save the next ones. Report about victims of Simon Mol?.
Added Jan 17th: beatroot finds my comment of his article nasty:
I don?t think that is fair comment at all.
The point of the second Mol post was about how some are trying to turn what are basic human tragedies, lives completely changed, suffering, into a political crusade. It is not me that is doing the abstracting, or the crusading.
What I meant is that neither beatroot?s first post, written to express skepticism towards the whole case in general and girls? accusations in particular, nor the second one, in which he moves on to worry about racists? use of the case, makes any effort to display sympathy for the victims. Beatroot writes ?Mol?s behaviour has taken on a much wider significance than to the lives that he has affected? and I agree, but since signs of the sympathy for these girls were something I was looking for at the time, I wrote the post to make for the apparent lack of them all around the internet.
Having said this, the comments referred to the particular message, rather than the person. And in fact, as he wrote, his life experience with victims of AIDS far exceeds mine.
Added Jan 19th: I already linked to Rebecca’s article for its unique perspective of someone who new Simon Mol personally, but now another reason to check it is a comment left by Mary, Simon’s former long time partner, the first comment to cast some doubt on part of the accussations. Mary claims to be Mol’s partner at a time when he supposedly had some of the relations described in the press, says she is healthy, and the woman he had had previously is healthy too (and her child as well).
In the same time, basing on her intimacy with Simon Mol, she expresses doubts whether the women quoted in the press really knew him. Ironically, earlier it was the press that accused Simon Mol’s friend of not knowing him at all. It gets interesting, the question – who Simon Mol really is?
Added Feb 1st: I would say I was again pretty much aligned with Rzeczpospolita, because they have done some work to shed some light on who Simon Mol really is. In the latest article by Bertold Kittel, Maja Narbutt, and Agata Byrska ask some questions about Mol?s financial activity: he was managing a one-person fundation and got granted an appartment by the committee he was a member of. They also mention some rather shadowy figures close to Mol, who are suspected of trying to threaten the witnesses. Rzeczpospolita also makes some nasty remarks about how easy it was for Mol to manipulate Gazeta Wyborcza?s journalists.
Added Feb 8th: Onet reports that even though infected women inform the police, they refuse to testify against Mol. Out of several women only four testify. On the other hand, police secured documents proving that Mol was diagnozed with HIV while in exile camp and he was informed that he is infected, therefore even without testimonies he will not avoid responsibility.
Added Mar 9th: Away in Moscow, I neglected to report the latest from Rzeczpospolita and TVN. We could see it coming. According to reporters’ investigation, Mol made up all the story about being politically repressed in his home country. I mention it just for the record. As the original title of this post suggests, Mol himself is of little personal interest of mine.
The article mentioned a specific fashion in Africa, related to guys cheating their way to the welfare countries with the approach similar to Mol’s. African prisons are supposedly filled with them, or at least the ones caught red-handed.
Earlier I read that the worst that could happen to Mol is to be extradicted to homeland, where he would surely be abused and tortured for his earlier activity. Now it seems he would rather have opportunity to share experiences with his fellows of the same trade.
So now the story lost some of its exotic allure and reached areas neighboring nigerian email scams and the like, African specific “entrepreneurship”. Which makes it even more sad somehow.
Added Dec 14th: According to GW, prosecution presented Mol with 13 formal charges – 12 are related to infecting women with dangerous virus, and 13th is related to illegal possession of a hand weapon (nunchaku). Two more cases of women are set aside, because they are currently abroad.
Added Oct 11th 2008: Wprost reported that Simon Mol died yesterday in a hospital. Onet wrote that he infected at least 40 women according to the prosecutor (much higher number than previously published). In September court decided to release him from prison due to his deteriorating health.