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Neglect of elderly relatives unlawful, High Court rules

 Justice Mrima says the Constitution protects members of families who are 60 years and above. [iStokphoto]

The High Court has ruled that family members who fail or refuse to take care of their elderly parents or relatives aged over 60 years violate the Constitution.

Justice Anthony Mrima ruled that the constitution bestows a duty for each member of a family of elderly members to ensure they (the elderly) receive reasonable care and assistance.

He noted that when members of families attain 60 years of age and above, the constitution protects them in terms of care and support from their younger members.

"When families capable of providing care to their elderly members ignore or neglect to do the same without reasonable justifications, they violate the constitution," ruled Justice Mrima.

Judge Mrima said the duty of family members is an addition to other duties and the constitution places on the government concerning the older members of society.

He reminded families that although the Constitution says parents are under an unwavering duty to ensure the best interest of their children is protected when the said parents attain the age of 60, the responsibilities shift.

"Children have to ensure their elderly parents and relatives are well fed, sheltered, access health care and are protected from abuse, neglect and inhuman treatment," ruled Mrima.

Succession case

The judge ruled in a succession case, as he faulted some of the children of late Muiruri Kamau for failing to care for their father when he got in an accident and was bedridden in the hospital for months.

He noted that despite accumulating a hospital bill of over Sh2.2 million, eight of Kamau's children failed to contribute to the settlement of the bill. The court further noted that Kamau's children were aware he was battling ailments and injuries from the traffic accident and used to be in and out of hospital.

"Some of the deceased's (Kamau) children failed to contribute money for his burial expenses when he died on August 20, 2015, aged 77," the judge said.

Justice Mrima faulted the children for failing to care for their step-mother Priscillah Wangechi, 80, noting they only concentrated on their mother, Grace Wambui.

"There is uncontroverted evidence that Wambui and her children neglected the deceased, especially during his sunset times when he needed them most," he ruled.

Justice Mrima said it was unlawful that Wambui's children, educated and wealthy, neglected their stepmother Wangechi, who has been confined in a wheelchair due to diabetes and old age.

He ruled that Wangechi was justified to sell some of the family's properties to pay for Kamau's medical bill and cover funeral money.

Among the properties are two plots in Waitaluk, Kitale measuring three acres each, another property along Eldoret-Kitale Road and a motor vehicle. The court reinstated Wangechi to her home in Limuru and ordered that she benefit from rentals.

The court distributed Kamau's estate equally among the two widows.

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