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Court orders man to keep off land gifted to his wife by his mother

Justice Mary Kasango dismissed the case filed in 2019 in which the man was seeking to have the land split equally between them.

The High Court has ordered a man to keep off land that was gifted to his wife by his mother.

Justice Mary Kasango dismissed the case filed in 2019 in which the man was seeking to have the land split equally between them.

According to the judge, the woman’s evidence was more believable than that of her husband.

“Having received the parties’ evidence, I find the evidence of the wife more credible than that of the husband. There is definitely no evidence adduced proving that the land is matrimonial property. The husband on being cross-examined affirmed that he and his wife did not settle on the land as family,” said Justice Kasango.

The judge said that the court had no powers to entertain the case, adding that only the Environment and Lands Court could resolve his claim if the land was matrimonial.

“The more I consider the evidence adduced by the husband, the more I find that his real claim is that the land, that half of it, is held by the wife in trust for him. That being the finding of this court, this court is of the view that it has no jurisdiction to entertain this claim,” the judge said.

The man, who was identified by the initials RMN to protect his identity, had sued his wife, TMM, claiming that the land which was in her name had been earmarked for him.

He, however, claimed that the contested property could not be registered under his name because Nyakinyua Investment Limited, a land-buying company, did not allow male members.

He argued that this was how the land ended up being registered in his wife’s name.

In her reply, TMM told the court that her mother-in-law gifted her the land in 1996. At the same time, she said, she had lived on the property with their children after her husband allegedly deserted them.

TMM also told the court that her mother-in-law gave her husband another property in Chania which he sold to his brother.

She accused him of attempting to cling onto her property “because he had nothing left”.

Title deeds

The man called his sister as his witness. She admitted that the land belonged to their mother. According to RMN’s sister, her late mother left her with the title deeds. She, however, could not tell how the contested land was registered in her sister-in-law’s name.

TMN never called a witness. She nevertheless asserted that the land was given by her husband’s parent.

After hearing the arguments, Justice Kasango said it was puzzling why the mother-in-law never registered the land in the name of her biological daughter if she did not intend to gift it to her daughter-in-law.

The judge held that the property was not matrimonial property. “The land in question cannot be categorised as a matrimonial home because there is no evidence that the husband and wife and their children resided thereof as a matrimonial home.  Nor is it the case of the husband that the land was jointly owned or acquired during the subsistence of the marriage.”

Justice Kasango also ordered the man to pay the costs of the case.