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Court stops two people 'adopted' by their aunt from inheriting her property

By Kamau Muthoni | March 7th 2016

Two people who claim to have been adopted by their aunt have failed in their bid to inherit her property.

The court ordered that their uncle would inherit the multi-million-shilling estate belonging to his deceased wife.

Julia Kanana Mwiti and Phineas Muriungi had filed a suit at the High Court in Meru seeking to inherit their aunt's property after she died in 2011.

While dismissing their application to be recognised as the adopted children of the deceased, Justice James Makau said their request had no merit as they failed to adduce evidence to support their claim.

"The applicants having tried to prove that they were adopted under Meru customary law by the deceased were duly bound to prove their allegation on the balance of probability. I find that the applicants miserably failed to do so," Justice Makau ruled.

The judge said Kanana and Muriungi did not call their grandfather who was still alive to confirm adoption, nor any elder or clan member, nor did they adduce any evidence on any adoption ceremony.

The two had requested that the temporary grant of letters of administration of the estate of the late Joyce Gatwiri M'Ikunyua given to Japhet Kithinji Muguna be annulled and/or revoked and they be granted leave to file objection proceedings.

They further sought an order closing all the bank accounts of the deceased until the case was determined.

"The deceased, apart from educating the two applicants and providing for their care during their primary and college days, has had nothing to do with the two after they got employment. The applicants were not even helping the deceased when she fell sick. She was left under the care and protection of the petitioner," the judge ruled.

They claimed that they were dependents of the deceased who allegedly adopted them since she had no children of her own.

However, Mr Muguna opposed their request, saying the deceased was his wife after their marriage was solemnised on December 16, 2005 at Katheri Methodist Church. Muguna told court that before the marriage, the two had cohabited as husband and wife in their matrimonial home in Katheri.

He also said that before their marriage, Gatwiri had acquired three pieces of land which were developed by the couple during their marriage.

Muguna said that at no time did the deceased adopt the applicants and that they grew up under the protection and care of their parents.

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