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Widow, son to take DNA test in Sh200 million inheritance battle

NATIONAL
By Daniel Chege | June 22nd 2021
Norah Atieno with her lawyer Steve Biko during the hearing of a succession case for properties of former director of Evans Sunrise Hospital, Washington Olweny, at Nakuru Law Courts on March 22, 2021. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

A woman and her son have agreed to take a paternity test in a succession case pitting three widows of Nakuru businessman Washington Olweny.

High Court judge Teresia Matheka directed lawyer Diana Gichuru appearing for Phelisia Akoth, the first widow, to file a formal application in court seeking to have her co-widow Norah Atieno and her son John Kevin Odhiambo take a DNA test.

Gichuru had raised doubt about Odhiambo being the child born out of an intimate affair between Atieno and the late Olweny.

Akoth, Atieno and Anne Wanjiru are battling in court for a share of Olweny's estate valued at Sh200 million.

Olweny died on November 28, 2016 and the family has been in court, seeking to share the property comprising a private hospital, land, commercial and residential buildings in Rift Valley, Nyanza and Nairobi.

On Monday, during cross-examination, Atieno failed to give crucial details about the birth of her last born son.

In her cross-examination Ms Gichuru, representing Akoth, had questioned Atieno on the exact date and month of the son's birth but she failed to respond accordingly.

Atieno gave conflicting details on the birth of Odhiambo- in one instance saying that she gave birth at Avenue Hospital in Nairobi.

On further prodding, she changed the story saying she delivered by the roadside in Uplands on the way to the Capital city, Nairobi.

“I never took my son to the hospital after giving birth. I was helped and after giving birth by the roadside, I returned to Nakuru,” she said.

Asked about the exact date of birth and month, Atieno said; " My son was born in late 1999, past June but I am not sure of the day."

She told Justice Matheka that her son was born prematurely - eight and a half months.

However, she could not tell the court in which hospital her son's birth was registered.

Gichuru further questioned her testimony saying it had gaps in terms of the location of the hospital in Nairobi and exactly where she gave birth.

“How could your husband leave you, a heavily pregnant lady to move from Nakuru to Nairobi on your own, using public means when he was a man of means?” asked Ms Gichuru.

In her response, Atieno said; “We both used public means to travel and so it was not strange for me to use the same means to go to the hospital.”

"Are you trying to tell court that even after giving birth in such a dangerous situation, you never went to any hospital?” Gichuru asked.

“Yes,” answered Atieno.

She testified that her late husband processed their son's birth notification, but she was not sure where and when it was processed.

Ms Gichuru produced two birth certificates, one indicating that the names of Atieno and Olweny as parents of Odhiambo were cancelled. The second had the names printed on it.

A letter from Department of Civil Registration, produced as evidence, nullified the birth certificate issued on November 9, 1999.

“The birth certificate issued on November 9, 1999 is hereby nullified because it amounted to double registration,” read the letter.

However, Atieno said that she had filed a petition challenging the cancellation of the certificate and is pending before court.

“Are you willing to be subjected to a DNA test to establish your relationship with your son Odhiambo?” asked Gichuru.

“Yes I am willing," answered Atieno.

Justice Matheka directed Ms Gichuru to file a formal application requesting the DNA test order.

"The court takes notice that the objector (Atieno) has not raised objections to being subjected to a DNA test," said Matheka.

Atieno closed her case and insisted Odhiambo is her son and Olweny is his father. She said that she is not aware of the two birth certificates produced in court.

“I am not sure which one is genuine and which one is not,” she said.

She is battling her alleged co-wives Akoth and Anne Wanjiru for control of the properties left behind by Olweny, who died intestate on November 28, 2016.

Allan Onyango, the deceased’s son, moved to court to lock out Atieno and Wanjiru from his father’s properties.

Onyango wants the High Court to declare that her mother Akoth is the only legal wife to Olweny.

The hearing continues on November 15 when Ann Wanjiru, the third wife of the late Olweny will take the witness stand.

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