Husband allowed to bury wife after 7-month legal tussle with in-laws
The body of a former police officer attached to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) can now be buried by her husband and not her siblings, seven months after she died.
Kakamega Senior Resident Magistrate Erick Malesi ruled that although there were no marriage documents to show Police Constable Jane Robi was married to Evans Ajega, there was proof their relationship was beyond that of mere friends.
The Magistrate said the action by the DCI Headquarters to communicate to Ajega telling him the officer had died confirmed that he was the next of kin.
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Robi died on June 28, 2018 in Nakuru while on a visit to her sister, Susan Wenkulu. Her kin kept Ajega in the dark about the demise and went ahead with burial arrangements.
She said Ajega had not paid the bride price and therefore had no right to bury her.
Ajega moved to court seeking to have the body released to him, saying the deceased must be buried at their matrimonial land in Kitale as opposed to her maiden home in Kuria, Migori County.
The court stopped her family from interring the remains until the matter is heard and determined.
The body was preserved at Pastor Machage Memorial Mortuary in Migori during the trial.
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Ajega told the court he married the deceased in 1996 and have three children though he never paid dowry.
In his judgment, the Magistrate observed that the defendants in the suit who were Robi’s sister and two cousins were economical with truth.
“I gathered from the testimonies of the defendants and their general demeanor that they knew the relationship was not a mere friendship but of nature of marriage. Maybe there was opposition to such relationship which hampered its formalisation and she died before the matters were ironed out."
Wenkulu told the court that two among the three children Ajega claimed he sired with Robi were not his children.
The magistrate upheld that since the birth certificates of all the children indicted he was their father, it spoke volumes to counter Wenkulu’s allegations.
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“The plaintiff never underwent customary rites of passage with the deceased for more than 20 years of their marriage. I am satisfied given the evidence placed before me, it is safe to presume existence of marriage between the two,” said the magistrate.
Malesi dismissed assertions by the defendants that Robi had bad blood with Ajega.
He said Robi was a police officer attached to the DCI and if Ajega had wronged her the course she would likely have taken was to drag him through the criminal justice process.
Directorate of Criminal InvestigationsDCIKakamega Senior Resident Magistrate Erick MalesiPastor Machage Memorial Mortuary