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Court case that triggered 50-50 property sharing verdict

By Kamau Muthoni | Published Wed, March 8th 2017 at 00:00, Updated March 7th 2017 at 23:37 GMT +3

After a 12-year battle, the Court of Appeal last week ruled that Zipporah Wangui, 78, deserved a share of property acquired during her marriage to Peter Njuguna, 80.

The couple's marriage hit the rocks in 1987, and Mr Njuguna left his matrimonial home as a result. He resurfaced after 12 years, in 1999, only to leave again in 2001 to live with another woman.

His estranged wife told Court of Appeal judges Festus Azangalala, Patrick Kiage and Philip Waki that the other woman was Njuguna's mistress with whom he had a son.

But Njuguna insisted that the other woman was a business partner who took good care of his mother and as such, deserved to be treated well.

The court noted that the marriage between the two had come to an end and was only valid on paper. Njuguna was said to have filed a divorce case that he later withdrew.

He also denied that he voluntarily left the matrimonial home and instead blamed Wangui for harassment and cruelty towards him and his parents, who have since died.

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In the division of property case, Ms Wangui wanted five properties - one in Nyahururu, three in Bahati-Kabatini and another one in Donholm.

Through lawyer Judy Thongori, she argued that she had contributed to the marriage both in terms of money and non-monetary terms.

But Njuguna, represented by lawyers Onesmus Githinji and Ian Mworia, argued that he was the only registered proprietor of the contested properties and that they were all acquired through his efforts.

In the end, the judges ruled that Wangui had a legitimate claim to the properties the couple had generated together.

"There is sufficient basis therefore to accept the evidence that Zipporah exercised those powers for the benefit of Peter and the entire family by generating the wealth and proceeds that acquired subsequent properties," the court found.

However, the judges ruled that two properties out of the five should not to be divided, as Njuguna had already transferred them to a third party who was never given a chance to appear in court.

Wangui had asked the court to stop her former husband from transferring or selling the two properties but Njuguna transferred them into a joint account with the woman Wangui claimed to be his mistress before the orders were out.

The judges ruled that the case on the two properties could be re-opened in another suit.