Judge: DNA saga in Sh200m property case waste of time

A court has warned against a contempt case against a woman seeking a share of a Sh200 million estate owned by late Nakuru businessman.

Norah Atieno is among three widows embroiled in a succession case over the property of Washington Olweny.

Atieno's co-wife Phelisia Akoth filed the contempt case before the High Court in Nakuru on March 24, last year, after the former declined to take a DNA test to ascertain the paternity of her son.

Akoth, Atieno and Anne Wanjiru claim they were the businessman's wives.

On Tuesday, the same court dismissed the case, terming it a sideshow.

Justice Teresia Matheka, in March last year, summoned Atieno asking her to show cause why action should not be taken against her for disobeying the court orders issued in August 2021.

The case has been in court since Olweny died on November 28, 2016 intestate.

Justice Samwel Mohochi, who took over the case from Justice Matheka, said the contempt application had delayed the case, terming the suit unnecessary.

He said that the application would not help the court and would not help ensure Olweny rests in peace.

"The case has dragged on for years, and one wonders if the late Olweny is resting in peace with the case dragging on in court and parties continuing to file irrelevant applications," said Justice Mohochi.

"The real issues in the case are succession and distribution of Olweny's estate, but the parties had turned it into a DNA test saga."

Maternal dispute

Justice Mohochi insisted that the DNA test ordered was also not a must for the case to be concluded fairly and in a timely manner.

According to the judge, Akoth has other ways to prove that Atieno was not married to the deceased.

He pointed out that the absence of the DNA test results should not be a disadvantage to Akoth, who filed the case.

"I will still hear the contempt case, but it is up to the party that filed the case to realise they have other ways to defend their interests in the case, save for the DNA test," he said.

The DNA saga started when Akoth's lawyer claimed Atieno was not the mother of John Odhiambo.

Atieno agreed, on June 21, 2021, to undergo the test. On August 16, 2021, Justice Matheka ordered Atieno and Odhiambo to undergo the test.

The court issued subsequent orders, on November 15 and November 25, 2021, but the same were flouted.

The case will be mentioned on May 26 for direction on the ruling date.