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Nakuru residents go to court over ownership of pets, livestock

NEWS

Ruma ,8, and Lelgina ,9, were on August 28, 2020, subjected to a DNA test to prove ownership after two women from Ngata in Rongai sub-county in Nakuru claimed the cows belonged to them.

Ann Cherotich and her neighbour Gloria Kandie have been engaged in a heated court battle over who rightfully owns the two Friesian cows. Before moving to court, Cherotich said she lost the two cows she believes are Ruma and Lelgina in August 2015, after they were allegedly stolen from her compound.

She said she reported the theft at Ngata Police Station and started looking for them.

“I lost my husband and my cows. Both provided for my needs and the needs of my four children. What I pray for is that I will be compensated for the cost I have endured since the case commenced in 2020,” she said.

On August 10, 2020, Cherotich who was passing by Kandie’s house saw two cows that resembled hers. She said they even gave her the ‘look’ and emotions proving they were connected as a family.

“I signaled the cows and they came to me. I knew then that they were mine,” said Cherotich.

She reported the matter at Menengai Police Station where the station’s OCS ordered Kandie to surrender the cows.

DNA test

When the police failed to tell the difference between the cows, they subjected them to a DNA test. A veterinarian checked on the characteristics of the cows including their dentition, tail switch, dehorning patterns, and skin and general body marks.

The next trick was simple; the two women had to describe their cows and the one with the perfect narrative will be declared the owner.

The women’s own descriptions of the cows were recorded including how the cows were dehorned, their skin patterns and dentition, and were compared with the veterinary officer’s report.

In the results, Peter Ngugi, the Rongai Sub-County Veterinary Officer Rongai, said Cherotich’s description of the cows matched that of the DNA test results.

The police later concluded that Cherotich was the owner of the cows and ordered Kandie to surrender them at Baraka Police Patrol Base on September 22, 2020.

However, Kandie who was in possession of the cows could hear none of Cherotich’s shenanigans nor the police and she moved to court and sued her before Senior Resident Magistrate Benjamin Limo.

Limo issued a temporary order for Kandie to possess the cow (status quo) until the case is concluded.

Kandie told the court that she bought the cows from two different people, at a combined price of Sh215,000, and named them Ruma and Lelgina.

“I bought Ruma from Paul Majanga for Sh100,000 on October 5, 2018, and Lelgina from David Mugaka on August 1, 2019, for Sh115,000,” read Kandie’s statement.

She claimed that on August 10, 2020, Cherotich invaded her grazing fields and began claiming the cows were hers.

Kandie rubbished the DNA test result, saying it was biased. “The cows’ physical appearances were examined in my absence,” she claimed.

On July 21, this year, Senior Principal Magistrate Charles Njuguna dismissed Kandie’s case when she and her lawyers failed to attend court.

Mr Charles, however, did not issue any orders on what should be done with the cows. Believing that the cows will be surrendered to her, Cherotich went to Kandie’s house and demanded her cows.

However, in a new application, Kandie wants the case revived. She said the case was determined in her absence and has urged the court to hear the matter and determine it on merit. On her part, Cherotich is a frustrated woman and feels that justice has not been served.

Case of the German Prince

And even as the cows’ saga is yet to be settled, a woman named Dorris Moraa has refused to surrender a German shepherd named Prince, which she borrowed from her neighbour Julius Nyabando in July 2020.

Moraa took the Prince from Nyabando, her friend, to mate and breed her dam with the promise that she would return him after a week. However, Moraa refused to return Prince to Nyabando for one and a half years, forcing him to move to court and sue her in January this year.

Nyabando said when he handed over Prince to Moraa, he was healthy and in good physical condition and would mate and breed successfully.

“Despite agreeing that she shall return the dog immediately after siring her dam, Moraa refused to return him,” said Nyabando.

He said he was in a breeding business and Moraa’s action halted his source of income and security for his family.

Nyabando urged Nakuru Resident Magistrate Dominic Macharia to order the woman to surrender the dog or pay an alternative Sh60,000, the alleged market value for the dog.

In her defence, Moraa claimed that Nyabando gave her Prince as a friendly gesture, at his construction site at Ngata.

“He appreciated me for giving him a compacting machine and constructing vibrators and I had paid his construction workers while he was away in the USA,” she said.

She further tried to convince the court that Prince was not in a position to sire when she was given, because he was too young.  

Dr Japheth Korir, a veterinary officer who has been vaccinating Prince since birth told the court that the dog belonged to Nyabando. He also confirmed that Prince was the same dog as the one he found at Moraa’s place in April 2021 while he went to attend to a dog that was giving birth.   

On August 26, Mr Macharia ruled that the dog belonged to Nyabando after he produced a vaccination certificate for April 2019. He also noted that Moraa was in possession of the dog since July 2020. He ruled that Moraa failed to adduce tangible evidence to prove she was given Prince as a gift and her claim was her words against Nyabando’s.

“The argument that the dog could not mate cannot stand, German Shepherd male is ready for mating at 12 months and the defendant (Moraa) took the dog when it was 14 months old,” the magistrate ruled.

Macharia ordered Moraa to surrender the dog to Nyabando within 14 days of the judgment or alternatively pay him the current market value of the dog.

A report compiled by Dr Jackson Kamau a veterinary surgeon in Nakuru on September 5, who did the valuation of the dog indicated that the dog’s estimated value is Sh30,000.

The doctor indicated that the valuation report of the black and brown, 40-month-old Prince was kept in fairly good condition.

On September 8, Moraa in her affidavit said that she was willing to pay Sh30,000 after engaging the veterinary officer for the valuation of the dog.

Nyabando declined Moraa’s offer to pay him Sh30,000 for the pet claiming that the terms were low compared to his initial valuation of Sh60,000 he had quoted for the dog in his statement.

He instead said he wanted Prince back in his custody.

 

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