A woman claiming to be the widow of former powerful minister Simeon Nyachae says she changed her name eight months after his death.
On the second day of the hearing before Family Court Judge Eric Ogola, Margaret Chweya told the court changed her name from Margaret Kerubo Chweya to Margaret Kerubo Nyachae six months after his death in 2021.
However, she said, the change had nothing to do with her trying to link herself with the deceased. She said anyone could change a name but retain their identity as the wife of the deceased.
“Given the fact that he had passed and he is the only one who knew I was his wife, I had to change to his name so that from that it would be the origin of getting anything he left for my kids,” testified Chweya.
The contention by the larger Nyachae family was that she changed her name 50 years after she allegedly married the former minister.
However, Chweya asserted that even without his name on her identification documents, he was still her husband.
She was also put to ask to explain her relationship with an American James Leroy Totten. On her maiden testimony, she told the court that Totten was a university friend’s kid.
However, it emerged there were documents showing she married him in 1989 and divorced him in 1992.
Asked why she married him if she was still a wife to Nyachae, she said it was a wrong decision and she regretted it.
“I am the one who paid for him to get this certificate (marriage). It enabled me get my books and free grants,” she said.
Are you saying at that time the late honourable Nyachae was not supporting you?” asked Justice Ogola.
“He was always supporting me but it was getting late. It sounded okay for me to get that and people who come to America find hardship,” she replied.
“But here you were a woman who was married, was he supporting you or not supporting you? Why did you enter into a marriage of convenience? Was the support not enough?” Justice Ogola pressed.
She continued: “No, it was enough but to get books in time I needed the grants… You run behind when you do not turn in your homework…”
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“You are in America because your loving and powerful husband has sent you there, what kind of an inconvenience can cause you to enter into a marriage of convenience?” Justice Ogola asked.
Chweya said she made a wrong decision. “I made a mistake,” she replied adding that she never told Nyachae about it.
She also admitted meeting another man, George Odero but claimed it was a sad story. Chweya said she ‘interacted’ and entertained him because she knew he was a dangerous man and may hurt her. However, the woman said she had alerted Nyachae about it.
“Gordon Odero was a man stalking me and he wanted to marry me and I had to tell him I was a married woman. I told my husband about it and he told me the story was scary…”
She was shown a birth certificate bearing her lastborn name. Nyachae family’s lawyer George Muchiri showed her a birth certificate indicating her daughter was called Patricia Moraa Odero.
“Who is the father of the child?” Muchiri asked.
“According to the document, the father is Gordon Odero,” she replied.
“Who is the mother?” he continued to ask. She replied: “The mother is Margaret.”
The woman was also questioned about another court document indicating Odero had been pursued by the US government to provide parental support to her thirdborn. It was claimed she married Odero in Nevada, US.
Asked why Patricia did not sign court papers in support of her case, she said her daughter was providing moral support. Pressed further, she said she gave her daughter the documents but was not aware whether Patricia signed them.
Her sons, John Paul Chweya and Rodney Chweya also took the witness stand. Paul admitted that he also changed his name after his mother to bear Nyachae’s name. Rodney said he was in the process of changing his too.
In Kenya, it was alleged that she was married to Jacob Machuki Mokaya and Michael Opondo. She however denied marrying and having children with the two. The case continues on October 9, 2023.