Evidence from mass wedding saves widow

The best man in a wedding and the presiding pastor handed a widow a lifeline after her in-laws disowned her.

Arin Nkatha Stanley had been sent away from her matrimonial home and locked out of managing her late husband’s estate after the sister-in-law claimed she was a housemaid hired to take care of her brother after he was involved in an accident that left him physically challenged.

Nkatha discovered that Florence Makena had obtained letters of grant and filed an application to have the document confirmed secretly in March 2009.

It is in the application that Makena claimed she employed Nkatha as a maid to take care of her brother after the accident, adding that he had married a woman identified as Elizabeth Kagendo under Meru customary law, with whom he had two children who are now adults.

The court was told that Makena only learnt of the marriage between her brother and Nkatha on the burial day, adding that Nkatha’s children did not belong to her late brother Stanley Mugambi M’ithili.

But David Murunge told the court that he was the best man in Nkatha’s wedding and signed the marriage certificate. Despite it being a mass wedding, Murunge saw some of the M’ithili’s relatives who attended the ceremony.

He told the court that the church announced the wedding three times and there was no objector.

Pastor (Rtd) Samuel Kaberia of East Africa Pentecostal Churches testified in court that he officiated the wedding, adding that if he knew there was a problem he would not have officiated it.

Justice Francis Gikonyo of the High Court consequently revoked letters of grant that had been issued to Makena on November 13, 2008.

The court said Makena failed to produce evidence on claims that her brother did not father Nkatha’s two children because he was involved in an accident that rendered him sexually inactive.

Became inactive

“Furthermore, contentions have been made that ever since the accident the deceased became sexually inactive in the hope to prove that the deceased could not have fathered the applicant’s children. No medical or cogent evidence has been produced to prove these claims,” said the judge.

The judge added: “I should state that this case demonstrates shear gullibility of humans when they place more value on the assets of the deceased than the deceased himself when he was alive.”

Nkatha met M’ithili at her place of work and they fell in love. She asserted that the deceased was physically challenged when they got married at the mass wedding ceremony.

He later went to her parents’ home for bride price negotiations in the company of two of his family members.

The court ruled that Makena’s evidence failed to show any fraud in the solemnisation of the marriage between the Nkatha and M’ithili, adding that Kagendo did not table any evidence showing M’ithili fathered her children.