Succession: Court declares woman, niece co-widows

Joseph Leitmann, the German Tycoon. [Courtesy]

After Spooner's departure, Nyambura moved into Leitmann's house as a help in the early 1960s.

She claims Leitmann fell in love with her, and "we decided to make our marriage formal."

She said although she could not remember the exact date or year, she entered into marriage with Leitmann under a Kikuyu Customary Law.

However, Nyambura was unable to bear children with Leitmann.

Nyambura testified that she adopted Wanjiku, her niece, in the 1970s when she was 10.

Together with Leitmann, they educated Wanjiku until college.

However, as she grew older, Leitmann grew fond of Wanjiku, and they started a secret affair while she was in high school.

"I took Wanjiku into our house out of love and pity because my sister was unable to raise her," testified Nyambura.

Leitmann and Wanjiku got married in 1995, and the two were blessed with children. They kicked her out of the matrimonial home.

Nyambura, however, argued that Wanjiku abandoned her children and her husband, went to the United States and never showed up until Leitmann died.

"Leitmann asked for forgiveness after Wanjiku left, and he called me back to his house. We were in the process of rectifying our previous union but he died," she testified.

Wanjiku returned in late 2001, forcefully took over Leitmann's home and denied her (Nyambura) access.

Wanjiku, a nurse, told the court she got married to Leitmann on June 30, 1995, when she was 28 years old while Lietmann was 69.

She denied that her aunt was Leitmann's wife. During her cross-examination, Wanjiku couldn't support this claim.

Lucy Wanjiku, who was fighting her aunt at Nakuru court since 2001 for the estate of their late husband, Joseph Leitmann. [Courtesy]

She also denied that Nyambura raised her from when she was 10 until she joined college. She also contradicted her mother Margaret Wangari's testimony that she got involved with Leitmann while still in High School.

"I got acquainted with Leitmann in 1986 when I was 19 and entered into a relationship with him. By then, I had finished high school," she testified.

Wanjiku denied snatching Leitmann from Nyambura. She also denied deserting him and their four children.

She could not explain why she did not visit Leitmann when he was sick and why she failed to attend his cremation.

Wanjiku defended the grant of letters of administration she was issued with on July 26, 2016, to manage Leitmann's estate. She also applied for court to block Nyambura from the estate.

On Thursday, October 12, 2023, Justice Chemitei finally brought an end to the battle between the two close relatives.

Chemitei ruled that evidence in court showed that both Nyambura and Wanjiku were widows to Leitmann and were entitled to inherit his estate.

Chemitei said that despite being locked out, Nyambura had a stake in the estate.

The judge cancelled the grant of letters of administration issued to Wanjiku.

"The grant issued to the petitioner (Wanjiku) is cancelled; a new grant will be issued bearing both the name of the petitioner and the objector (Nyambura)," ruled Chemitei.

The court also quashed an eviction notice against Nyambura dated May 27, 2017.

According to the judge, both Nyambura and Wanjiku were Leitmann's wives.