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Father loses church-choice court war to daughters

NAIROBI
By Kamau Muthoni | November 25th 2021

Judge’s gavel [Courtesy]

A decision by four siblings to worship in a city church has turned ugly, pitting their father against the sanctuary.

The difference over the right of worship between the father and his daughters has resulted into a court battle, with the daughters swearing an affidavit against their father.

And the once-upon a time tranquil that bound the man and his daughters faded after he lost the case to his children.

However, even though Mashack Sami Ngutu lost the case filed against his daughters’ church – Kingdom and Life Embassy Church – the duel is a landmark one, setting parental rights against the right of choice and worship.

Sami’s family was a happy one until 2016 when his daughter Sharleen Wamuu, 30, started attending the church. Wamuu was joined by her sisters Ruth Kavenge, 36, Teresia Wairimu, 22, and Mercy Wambui, 20.

The court record reads that the four were all university students.

In his case against Kingdom’s church pastor Micah Kyama Sila and his wife Zipporah Sila, Sami claimed all his daughters dropped out of school after joining the church and started modelling for ‘House of Zippy Enterprises’. He accused the church of indoctrinating his children.

Sami, in the case now dismissed by High Court judge Hedwig Ong’undi, sought for declarations that his daughters’ right to education had been violated.

He also asked the court to order the church to compensate the four and that they should be freed. He claimed the church had detained them.

Pastor Kyama and his wife opposed the case. They argued that the four were adults who had a right to choose which church to attend. 

According to the two, granting Sami’s orders would amount to a violation of the children's rights. In his reply, Kyama told the court that he is the apostolic leader in Kingdom and Life Embassy, a Ministry under the Living Word Churches. 

He denied that together with his wife, they had forced or influenced any of the four to become members of their church. The two also denied ever housing any of the girls.

They also denied influencing or advising the girls to leave school, or pose as models, or work for any of their enterprises.

In his argument, Kyama said that in February 2019, Sami called him on the telephone, threatening to come to his church to beat him up. 

The pastor claimed the girls’ father made good his threat when on March 28, 2019, he stormed the church and dragged Wamuu and Kavenge out.

Court records also read that Sami threatened and insulted the pastors present and tried to incite the crowd outside to torch the church. 

The incident was reported by the church caretaker at Ruiru Police Station.

Sami was charged before the Ruiru Magistrate's Court. According to Kyama, on April 19, 2019, a group of drunk men stormed the church and attacked the caretaker.

The caretaker said the youth told him that Sami had sent them, claiming the church was cultic. One person was charged over the incident.

In the case, the girls sided with the church, urging the court to dismiss their father’s case. They told the court that they had moved out of their father’s house and were living independently.

Wamuu claimed their relationship with the father was rocky even before joining the church as he was allegedly violent and controlling.

Sami disputed his daughters’ testimonies. In his case, he urged the judge to order the church to pay Sh3 million as compensation.

Justice Ong’undi disagreed with Sami, noting that he did not explain why he sued on their behalf yet they had attained the legal age of 18.

According to the judge, he had no right to force his children to choose one church over another. In the end, Justice Ong’undi ordered he pays the church the cost of the case.

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