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Man gets nod to bury wife after a protracted dispute with his separated wife

By Jack Murima | Nov 21st 2019 | 3 min read

A man has been allowed to bury his son after a protracted legal battle with his estranged wife.

A court yesterday ruled that although the woman had taken care of her son after separating from her husband 30 years ago, Mr Stanley Wafula, a secondary school teacher, still had the right to bury his son.

Mr Wafula, a teacher at Siville Secondary, moved to court on September 16 seeking orders allowing him to bury his son Edward Wanzetse who died on September 4. He was 31.

Wafula told Kakamega Chief Magistrate Bildad Ochieng’ that he was Wanzetse's father even though he had been raised by his mother Ruth Shikuku. 

Wafula said he married Ms Shikuku in 1987 and they had Wanzetse in 1988. They later settled in Namilama, Navakholo Sub-county. 

He said the customs of Abanyala-Abalindavyoki clan were observed when he was born.

Wafula said his wife later left their matrimonial home with their son and moved to Isongo Primary School where she taught.

 Monthly upkeep

He said he visited them from time to time until he learnt that Shikuku was in a relationship with one David Were.

Before this, Shikuku had instituted a claim at the Children’s Department and Wafula was ordered to pay a monthly upkeep for his son.

Wafula said he could not trace his estranged wife as she relocated after she remarried. He said he visited Wanzetse while he was at Starehe Boys but Shikuku opposed it.

Wafula said he followed his son's progress and was well aware that he joined the University of Nairobi (UoN) to study medicine and was posted to Ishara Hospital after his studies.

He learnt of his son's death through social media on September 16.

He said Shikuku, Were and Wanzetse’s widow Harriet Kekena tried to lock him out of the burial arrangements. Shikuku, Were and Kekena were respondents.

A funeral service was organised at UoN without his knowledge. That is when he moved to court seeking orders to bar the respondents from removing the body from Chiromo Mortuary or interring it until his case was heard and determined.

Wafula argued that any child, apart from a married woman, must be buried in their ancestral land failure to which a bad omen would befall the family, sentiments echoed by an elder, 75-year-old Joseph Nyongesa.

“I am satisfied the plaintiff has established on a balance of probability that he is entitled to bury the deceased in his ancestral home. I hereby enter judgement for the plaintiff against the defendants. Family to share equally mortuary costs,” Ochieng ruled.

He added: “Although activities of the first and second defendants in meeting the expenses of the deceased are commendable, that doesn’t grant them an upper hand in terms of limiting the plaintiff from exercising the recognised customary rites that are not repugnant to justice and morality in terms of burial.”

In her defence, Shikuku claimed Wafula did not want to have Wanzetse and even asked her to procure an abortion.

She said she educated her son by herself, from primary school to university, claiming efforts to reach Wafula for support failed.

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