Koinange widows, children differ on how to share Sh30 billion empire

Former cabinet secretary Mbiyu Koinange.

For 38 years, the family of late Cabinet minister Mbiyu Koinange has been fighting over his estate estimated to be worth over Sh30 billion.

The battle, which has seen them walk through the High Court, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court and back to the High Court since the patriarch’s death in 1981 is almost coming to an end after the beneficiaries made proposals on how they want the multi-billion-shilling properties divided.

Appearing before Justice Aggrey Muchelule yesterday, Koinange’s family from his four wives were all in agreement that the matter needs to come to a close to enable them move on with their lives.

However, despite the many years in court corridors seeking to resolve one of the oldest family disputes, they still differed on how the properties should be shared, with each beneficiary coming up with own proposal.

Whereas Koinange’s third and fourth wives Margaret Njeri and Eddah Wanjiru, respectively proposed that the properties be shared equally among the four houses, his children from the first and second wives argued that their step-mothers had no children with their father and should get a smaller share.

Senior counsels Paul Muite and Ahmednassir Abdullahi representing Njeri and Wanjiru submitted that the law recognised all the four wives and the estate should be divided equally among their families. “The distribution should be according to our culture which recognises that Koinange was a polygamous man with four houses. It is only fair if each house is given equal share and then the dependants from each house will agree on how to divide their share,” Muite said.

According to Muite, Wanjiru had also proposed that apart from the land properties, all other investments, including the Sh2 billion parking space near Reinsurance Plaza be sold and the proceeds equally shared among the four houses.

Estate farms

Koinange’s daughter Lennah implored the judge to consider a previous agreement by the beneficiaries to allow each to continue occupying the portions of land they have been residing on and have developed. “Some beneficiaries reside within the estate farms and have heavily invested and developed the areas after being there for many years in the permission of all the beneficiaries while others have committed to investment arrangements with third parties,” she said.

She claimed in her affidavit that some of the estate’s administrators have not accounted for funds derived from rent and sale of properties worth billions of shillings.

Among the properties she said have not been accounted for are sale of 100 acres of land at Sh1.16 billion, another 291 acres at Sh572 million, a block of shops on Biashara Street at Sh20 million, shares in Koinage Investment Ltd worth Sh400 million and Sh284 million from the estate account.

The late minister’s eldest son David Waiganjo, however, differed with his stepmothers and proposed that the estate be divided according to Koinage’s children from each of the four houses.

He supported his sister saying most of them have invested on the areas they occupied and it would be unfair to demolish their structures to re-distribute the estate. “In distributing the properties, priority should be given to the beneficiaries who have been residing in those properties. They developed the properties on the understanding that whoever will eventually inherit would take over the tenancy,” Waiganjo said.

His brother George Kihara said there is no disagreement among Koinage’s children on how they should share the properties, adding that it would be unfair to have the properties divided equally among the four houses when the last two wives had no children with his father.

Joyce Njunu, who represents Koinange’s other son Isaac Njunu, argued that the estate should be distributed to each beneficiary, and not per household as proposed by Njeri and Wanjiru.