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Father Wamugunda denies child, appeals decision to pay Sh25,000 monthly upkeep

By Kamau Muthoni | September 3rd 2021
Catholic priest Dominic Wamugunda in a past event at Cathedral Basilica of the Holy Family, Nairobi. [PSCU]

Catholic priest Dominic Wamugunda wants the High Court to overturn an order by a lower court that he pays Sh25,000 monthly upkeep for a child whose paternity he has disputed.

Father Wamugunda, who has denied fathering the 12-year-old girl, has asked High Court judge Maureen Odero to suspend the magistrate's ruling that requires him to pay the money.

The lower court had, last month, dismissed the priest's application to have its order on the child's maintenance suspended.

In his appeal, the cleric denies fathering the child. He has told court he has never seen or supported the minor since she was born.

He'd moved to the family court arguing the girl's mother was on the verge of seeking to have him jailed over accusations of disobeying the court order that requires him to support the child. He said the woman may also attach his properties to recover the money unless the High Court suspends the magistrate's court ruling.

“The learned magistrate erred in law and in fact by failing to appreciate that the plaintiff had not placed any material evidence before the court to warrant an award of Sh25,000 maintenance,” Wamugunda's appeal states.

It adds: “The appellant is at risk of being arrested and incarcerated in the execution of ex parte orders.”

Wamugunda accuses children's court magistrate Mary Otindo of condemning him unheard.

The clergyman says Ms Otindo of not taking into consideration that a DNA test was needed before ordering him to pay the money.

The magistrate issued the order for him to pay the money on December 9 last year.

He says the lower court did not also consider he is sickly.

“The learned magistrate erred in law and fact by failing to set aside the ex parte orders issued therein on December 9, 2020. The learned magistrate erred in law and fact by failing to review, set aside, discharge, vary, suspend and vacate its order granted on December 9, 2020, without the appellant’s participation,” Wamugunda’s court papers, filed by lawyer David Kirimi, state.

The priest wants the High Court to set aside Otindo's orders, accusing the child's mother of turning around to refuse to take a DNA test even after she had agreed to it.

Wamugunda said they'd agreed to meet for the test but the woman and the minor did not turn up.

“There is an urgent need to protect the appellant pending the hearing of the main appeal. Unless the application dated August 20, 2021, is admitted for hearing during the current High Court vacation, the appellant will suffer irreparably,” Wamugunda's court papers read.

Wamugunda claims he has also learnt there is an organisation that has taken over payment of the minor’s school fees.

“I am not satisfied at all with the court finding and that it is why I have filed an appeal. I have completely denied paternity of the subject child whom I have not seen or supported since she was born and she is now 12 years old,” he argues.

“I am aware the parties agreed to undertake testing and order recorded by consent on May 17, 2021, and I already paid for the same. On the appointed date for the DNA testing August 5, 2021, as agreed between the advocates Mr Kirimi and Mr Shisanya, the respondent did not show up.”

The mother filed the case against the cleric on December 9 last year claiming Wamugunda is the father of the minor and should therefore support her. 

However, the priest says the case was out of lies and was meant to malign his name. He insists only a DNA would ascertain the truth about the minor.

The magistrate, last month, dismissed the priest's application noting he did not demonstrate he would suffer damages if he pays the upkeep of the child. Otindo also said Wamugunda did not prove the woman would not compensate him if the DNA test turned negative.

She also dismissed his argument he is sickly.

"It has to be remembered that this court, on May 17, 2021, allowed a DNA test be undertaken. He did not do so on an allegation he was unwell. There was no evidence placed before court to support the said position that he was incapacitated to undertake the said DNA and that the court ordered that he continue to discharge his parental responsibility,” the magistrate ruled.

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