Magistrates issue conflicting orders in businesswoman's a burial dispute

An open grave in a burial dispute. [File, Standard]

Confusion reigned over the burial site of Nyahururu businesswoman Mary Karura after two conflicting court orders were issued by different magistrates last week.

The family of Karura, who died on March 2, after a long illness, is sharply divided over where she should be buried.

According to court documents seen by The Standard, two Nyahururu Senior Resident Magistrates - Cynthia Muhoro and Mary Osoro, issued conflicting orders.

On March 6, 2024, Muhoro stopped the burial that was scheduled for March 7 following an application filed by two of the deceased's seven children.

The two, Joseph Mbugua and Rahab Wambui, sued their siblings John Munene, Godfrey Gitau and Margaret Ngonyo, and St Benedict Hospital Mortuary-where their mother's remains lay.

The duo sought to stop the burial, accusing their siblings of planning to bury their mother on land belonging to their sister, Jane Njeri, instead of her (Karura) property.

“The application is certified as urgent. Pending hearing and determination, the defendants are restrained from collecting and burying the body of the deceased or in any way interfering with the body of the deceased at the mortuary,” ruled Muhoro.

She also barred the in charge of the mortuary from releasing the body until the dispute is heard and determined.

The court directed the parties to appear March 11, 2024 to confirm compliance and take further directions.

However, in another court Magistrate Osoro, ruled in favour of the three siblings, following a case they filed separately.

In her order dated March 7, Osoro temporarily barred Mbugua from delaying or stopping Karura’s burial after his siblings Munene and Gitau sued him.

“The matter is certified urgent, and pending hearing and determination of the suit, the defendant (Mbugua) is temporarily restrained from delaying or stopping the burial of the deceased slated for March 7,” she ruled.

But the court gave no mention of dates or orders to the mortuary holding Karura.

Following the order, Mbugua and Wambui returned to court, claiming the application by their siblings and the orders issued were flawed.

They submitted that for selfish reasons, their siblings want to bury their mother on property that does not belong to her.

“The burial location where our siblings want to bury our mother is contested in a succession case for distribution of the estate of our late father, Francis Kariuki."

They claimed that their siblings were denying them the right to bury their mother according to Kikuyu customary law, on her property, which she inherited from their father.

“All the siblings would suffer irreparable harm, damage and undue moral anguish and may not give their mother a befitting send-off,” they state.

Mbugua and Wambui urged the court to ensure the burial is stopped and to order the Officer Commanding Ngano Police Station to ensure compliance.

In response, the three siblings said the two had no valid reason to stop the burial and insisted that Karura would be buried on her land.

They argued that their mother Karura needs to be buried to save the family from the accruing mortuary bill.

Ironically, they also want the OCS Ngano to ensure the burial proceeds.

The case will be mentioned today, March 11, before Muhoro.