Woman in Sh200m estate battle risks jail for snubbing DNA test

Anne Wanjiru and Norah Atieno and outside Nakuru Law courts on January 17, 2017, after seeking a second injunction to stop the burial process of their late husband Washington Olweny. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

One of the women claiming to be a widow to the late Nakuru tycoon Washington Olweny, whose Sh200 million estate is at the centre of a bitter succession battle, risks being jailed for contempt of court.

The woman, Norah Atieno, reportedly refused to undergo a DNA test even after three court orders were issued by Justice Teresia Matheka. 

The judge is set to hear an application on the contempt claim dated March 24, 2022, and filed by Olweny’s first widow, Phelisia Akoth, and her sons Edwin Otieno and Timothy Ochieng’.

Ms Akoth’s lawyer Wilfred Lusi said Ms Atieno did not comply with the court’s orders of August 16, 2021, August 20, 2021 and November 15, 2021.

On November 25 last year, Ms Akoth went to court and complained that Ms Atieno was yet to comply with the orders even after she had agreed to give samples. The court declared that it was retaining the orders.

Ms Atieno had agreed to undergo the DNA test to prove she is the mother to one John Odhiambo, a son she allegedly sired with the late Olweny.

But Mr Lusi alleges that for the third time, Ms Atieno failed to present herself at the Government Chemist laboratory in Nairobi on May 5 to give a genetic sample for DNA profiling.

“Despite the objector agreeing to give samples for DNA testing, she has declined to comply with the orders on numerous occasions,” Mr Lusi said.

The lawyer produced a letter from the lab, dated December 3, 2021, which he said proved that Atieno refused to present herself at the lab on December 2, 2021.

“The petitioner (Akoth) sent the objector (Atieno) Sh10,000 through her lawyer Yoni Aim for logistics, to ensure she availed herself. In a letter dated November 31, 2021, she confirmed receiving the money,” said Mr Lusi.

But Mr Yoni claims Ms Atieno presented herself at the lab and was received by an officer. He said his client introduced herself but lab staff, who were rude to her, said she was not Atieno, forcing her to leave the premises.

“Contrary to the court order that allowed four people at the lab, the media was there and other strangers, making it uncomfortable for Atieno,” said Mr Yoni.

Mr Lusi wants the court to find Ms Atieno guilty of contempt of court and sentence her to a custodial sentence of more than a year and or a fine of Sh2 million.

He accuses her of unnecessarily antagonising the proceedings and interfering with the succession case. The lawyer also wants the court to deny Ms Atieno audience until the contempt application against her is heard and determined.

Ms Akoth moved to court in 2017 seeking to block Ms Atieno and one Anne Wanjiru from accessing Olweny’s properties after the two women claimed to have been married to the surveyor and businessman.

Olweny died intestate on November 28, 2016, leaving behind properties estimated to be worth Sh200 million.

The lawyers will make oral arguments on June 9.