A court in Kitale has found a local musician and socialite, who was arrested on allegations of stealing a vehicle belonging to a late Kitale tycoon, guilty of the offence.
The socialite, Sheila Wairimu alias Shay Diva Africa, was convicted of stealing a Toyota Prado V8 from a deceased Asian tycoon, Dodhia Kumar, 61.
She was convicted on three counts of inter-meddling the estate of the deceased person, stealing and obtaining registration of a motor vehicle by false pretence.
The prosecution had lined up five witnesses in the case and lawyer Jeremiah Samba represented the deceased's wife Nishma Dodhia in the case.
A witness, Chirag Bhatt, a manager of the hardware shop owned by the deceased, testified before the court that the accused had consistently blackmailed the deceased that she would disclose her illicit relationship with the deceased to his wife in the UK.
Bhatt told the court, that is how the accused remained with the vehicle until the death of the deceased.
After the tycoon's death, his family launched a complaint with the police after learning that Ms Wairimu had taken the car, saying he only gave it to her on a “use and return basis” since they were in a relationship.
“After the owner of the vehicle died, the accused changed ownership within four days. The deceased’s wife authorized one of the relatives to make a report of any property owned by the deceased,” said Trans Nzoia DCIO Francis Kihara.
According to the record at the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA), the accused made a transfer of the log book by logging into the TIMs account at 11.45 pm on April 26, four days after the tycoon died.
The authorization of transfer was granted at 2pm the next day, but there were no supporting documents from the owner.
Police officers tracked Ms Wairimu to Kitengela, where she was staying, and recovered the vehicle.
The vehicle was towed to Buruburu police station and later to Kitale Police Station. Wairimu was arrested as she tried to retrieve the vehicle from the station.
On July 3, 2021, police arrested the musician for allegedly accessing Kumar’s TIMs/NTSA account and transferring ownership of the vehicle to herself without following the due processes of succession.
In her defence, the musician said the vehicle was transferred to her without her knowledge and that she learned about this when she accessed her NTSA account.
She told the court that she has never attempted to illegally transfer ownership of the vehicle.
Kitale Chief Magistrate Julius N'garng'ar, found that the motor vehicle was part of the estate of Kumar because as of April 22, 2021, when he died, the vehicle was still registered in his name.
The court also found that a copy of the will produced in court was a valid will of the deceased and that Wairimu was not mentioned as a beneficiary.
The court further observed that the accused transferred the motor vehicle at a very questionable time, days after the death of the deceased, and yet the accused did not have the logbook with regard to the said motor vehicle.
"The prosecution proved the case beyond any reasonable doubt. I here found the accused guilty of the three counts," said N'garng'ar in his ruling.
N'garng'ar will issue the sentence on December 5, 2022, pending mitigation by the accused personally or through her lawyer.