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Battle for Sh500m estate left by tycoon Stephen Wang'ondu

 

Stephen Wangondu's property in Wendiga Estate, Mweiga. [Clement Masombo, Standard]

The battle for a Sh500 million estate of a Nyeri businessman has taken a new twist after his sons moved to court to challenge the authenticity of his Will.

Barely one year after the death of Stephen Wangondu, his sons, Elijah Kinini and David Mworia, are now challenging the validity of his Will.

Their father was last year charged for hiring hit men to eliminate his son David Mwangi, whose body was found in a pool of blood at his gate in Wendiga village in Mweiga.

The businessman,73, who was the prime suspect died on May 5, a few days after he was released on a Sh1 million bond and a surety of a similar amount.

Mwangi was murdered on January 1, 2021, after celebrating New Year’s Eve with friends at a local pub at Mweiga town.

According to an affidavit filed by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) Constable Raphael Wafula, Wangondu - Mwangi's biological father - was the prime suspect in the brutal killing of his son.

In the applications that have split the family, the two men say they believe the signatures in the two documents were a forgery and want the matter investigated before any distribution is done.

Among those named as respondents include Solomon Mwihungi Mahugu, the deceased's sister Easter Wangari Kinini, Daniel Kinini and Jane Wamucii, the late businessman's third wife.

Others are Peter Nyika Muchiri, lawyers Charles Karweru and Mahugu Mbarire, James Mwihungi, James Murage, Paul Kuria and James Muthike.

According to the document filed in court, Wangondu's other wives include Beatrice Njeri (first wife) and Scholastic Wacuka (second) and the mother of Mwangi whom he had separated from for 13 years.

Before his demise, Wangondu had appointed Mwihungi, Muchiri and Karweru as executors of his will and codicil dated October 5, 2020, and April 2021 respectively.

“We are the executors of the deceased's will and we will administer it according to the law. We have since raised an objection seeking for the dismissal of application with cost,” the three through their lawyer Mahugu Mbarire argued.

They want the suit which is before Justice Martin Muya struck out, terming it frivolous, mischievous and an abuse of court process.

Kinini and Mworia, however, want the court to issue orders preserving the vast estate of the deceased and halt confirmation of a grant for the letter of administration pending the hearing of their objection.

“We believe the signature appearing on the will and codicil are not true signatures and instead are fraudulent and weak attempts of forgery of the deceased signatures,” the two said.

Apart from an unknown amount of money being held in various accounts, the deceased's estate comprises of huge tracts of land in Nyeri county, and business premises that generate monthly rental incomes.

Other properties and assets that are being contested include proceeds from tea farms, banana plantations, fish farming, soda distribution businesses and petrol stations.

Assets also at the centre of the dispute are a fleet of over 20 motor vehicles, among them top-of-the-range vehicles like Range Rover and Toyota Land Cruiser models among others.

“Pending the hearing and determination of the suit, all proceeds from the property forming the estate of Wangondu should be deposited in a joint interest-earning account in the name of Mworia and a representative from the respondents,” the applicants explain.

They also want the respondents or any other person acting on their authority be restrained from meddling and in particular alienating, transferring, disposing of or appropriating any part of Wangondu estate.  

The DCI has since written to the court requesting for information and document in respect of the succession matter saying the matter is under investigation.  

"This office is requesting to be furnished with certified copies of all pleading filled and exhibits including the will and codicil,” a letter dated May 9 and signed by Mike Muia on behalf of the DCI reads in part.     

Others charged alongside the late businessman was his driver James Mahinda, Geoffrey Waturi and Eddie Kariuki.

Mahinda was sentenced to serve one-year probation after he pleaded guilty to the offence of aiding in committing a felony, while Waturi and Kariuki's criminal case is still pending.