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Police seek clues after white widow disappears in a curious love story

By Allan Mungai | January 25th 2020
The shopping complex Dysseleer Mireille (Inset) built in Marala, Samburu County. [Michael Saitoti, Standard]

For some time, Dysseleer Mireille had it all in life. She was beautiful, had money and in a lanky Samburu dancer, she had love.

Then it all crumbled. Now she is missing.

Two husbands later, detectives from Nakuru are working to unravel the disappearance of the 61-year-old Belgian widow who migrated to Kenya and settled in Maralal but has not been seen for the last five months.

Her friends in Maralal believe Mireille left the country after 27 years of calling Kenya her home. A home that gifted her a husband, Emmanuel Lesoipa, who later died.

Dancing husband

They believe she had fallen out of love with Kenya when her Samburu dancing husband married two other wives, triggering a marital fall out and a series of court battles.

Now, DCI investigators believe there could be foul play in her vanishing.

For the past 14 years, Mireille has been embroiled in a vicious court battle with her former husband over matrimonial property after their marriage collapsed in 2004.

In 1993, she had packed her bags and set off from the country of her birth – Belgium – to the Kenyan coastal town of Malindi where she met the lanky Samburu man that would change her life. She was 35 then.

That was 27 years ago. Now, detectives are trying to unravel the mystery that is the disappearance of the Belgian-Kenyan woman who had become a sensation in Maralal.

For her love for Kenya, Mireille went to the lengths of denouncing her Belgian citizenship. In a 2013 TV interview, she declared she had denounced her citizenship.

By her own admission in a television interview carried in 2013 by Citizen TV, she was not taken so much by Lesoipa as by the primal life he led. Lesoipa passed himself off as a Maasai dancer and entertained guests in Malindi.

“After I left Malindi, I kept in contact with him and told him I wanted to visit his home,” she said in the interview.

Mireille visited the Lesoipa’s manyatta in Samburu about eight times over a two year period. A love blossomed between them and they got married.

The couple formalised their union in a civil ceremony in December 1995 and were happy for nine years before the marriage became turbulent and ended in divorce in 2004.

Their union did not have any children and the marriage disintegrated after Lesoipa took a second wife, Naserian Lesoipa.

Mireille was a linguist who spoke her English, Samburu and Swahili fluently albeit with a heavy French accent. The only thing she loved more than life in Maralal and interacting with locals at her cyber café are the pet parrots she kept.

Police believe her disappearance could be linked to a fight over property between her and the family of her estranged husband.

Since their divorce in 2004, Mireille and Lesoipa had been battling in court over their matrimonial property which comprised a town house, a shopping complex estimated to be worth Sh19 million as well as a luxury car and a lorry.

Shared property

Part of the conditions to dissolving their union was that none of the properties they had purchased could be sold by either of the parties without the other’s consent.

In the event that the properties were sold, Mireille was to receive the initial capital she invested and the profits then shared between them equally, the court also ruled.

But towards the end of 2017 after the death of her ex-husband, Mireille sold the shopping complex in Maralal and relocated to Nakuru, where she bought a house at Milimani estate.

It is from this house in Nakuru that she disappeared in December. According to investigators, the last time Mireille communicated with relatives back home was five months ago through a phone call. The last posting on her Facebook page was on October 6 last year.

Saturday Standard has established that detectives have been to a crematorium they suspect the woman’s body was disposed of.

Other teams are combing houses in Nakuru.

A relative had filed a report with the Belgium Embassy in Nairobi after failing to trace her. The embassy contacted the DCI where a formal report of missing person was filed. It is on the basis of this report that detectives started looking for Mireille who they now suspect could have been harmed.  

Police believe that the Nakuru house could hold the answers to her whereabouts.

Lesoipa’s family had gone to court arguing that the Law of Succession recognises the rights of wives and children over their husband’s or father’s estate. 

“These rights accrue upon the death of the husband. It is urged that the public auction conducted on October 30, 2017 after the death of the deceased was illegal, irregular, null and void,” the court heard

They were opposing a judgment dated February 9, 2015 delivered by Justice Janet Mulwa in Nakuru, who directed that the Samburu property be sold or parties buy each others entitlement to it.

The plot was sold by private treaty to Nuclear Investments Ltd for Sh15 million.

But after the purchase, Lesoipa’s relatives went to court seeking that the auction to be nullified.

In his judgement delivered on July 31, 2018 High Court judge AK Ndung’u said: “I am satisfied that the sale by public auction herein was regular and done in accordance with the terms settled by court. The applicant paid all the necessary monies and indeed, the plaintiff/decree Holder has not contested the fact that her advocates received the decretal sum.”

[Additional reporting by Michael Saitoti]

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