Judge Awards Mother in law Widow’s Land: No Justice for Widows in Kenya

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It is a well-established fact that widows go through hell to get their family’s’ property in Kenya. In Kirima’s case, stepchildren kicked the widow of Nairobi Gerishon Kirima out of her husband’s house even when he was alive! It took a legal battle for her to finally be allowed to stay in her house. Many widows in Kenya are not very lucky. Many of them are poor and cannot afford attorneys to go through the miserable process of succession within the Kenyan legal system.

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To make matters worse, a wife does not have authority over her family’s’ assets once the husband is gone. Even when there is a will, the trail of corruption within the Kenyan judiciary lenders wills useless as judges and court registry looses files and judges delay judgment to appease those who give them money. The case below is an example of how miserable widows are in Kenya. The registry in Milimani court hid the file of Sarah Wangari Kangari and her four children’s succession case. It took the Chief Justice Willy Mutunga to personally go there and demand that it be found.  He also demanded that the file be put under lock! The presiding judge did nothing to protect the wife or the file. Recently, the new chief justice ordered an investigation into the disappearance of files in Kenyan courts.

Can you imagine a poor woman from Kinangop or Kosirai with no money trying to find a file in the courts on her succession case? Many widows leave in poverty and their children fail to go to school because their case is lost in the corrupt Kenyan legal system. There are no persons who experience vulnerability like widows and orphans. In Kenya widows are left with only the Biblical promise. Psalm 146:9 “The LORD watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.” In fact the Bible declares it a HIGH sin the failure to protect and preserve widows and orphans.

In the succession case of Joseph Kangari Muhu the judge, one Mr. W. Musyoki who presides over family cases in Milimani Courts in Nairobi is an example of how corrupt the Kenyan legal system can be. In ruling on a case posted online by the KenyaLaw.com the judge refused to give the widow her land even though the name on the Title Deed was written the husband and the wife’s name!

Please read this judgment for yourself and tell me whether the judgment makes sense! The Judge ruled that Serah Muhu and Sarah Wangari Kangari are similar! How can Serah Muhu the mother in law be similar to Sarah Wangari Kangari, the wife? Seriously, even a form one student can tell that they are not similar names, yet the judge favored the mother in Law! This judge should step down or be removed!

THE JUDGE RULED THAT:

20. Due to that lack of clarity, it may not be prudent to grant the application in terms of prayer 2.  For if it turns out that Serah Mweru Muhu is the Serah Kangari referred to in the title, then I would be ordering her to surrender titles to her own property.  If the Serah Kangari referred to in the title document refers to Sarah Wangari Kangari, then it would be asking her to surrender documents that have nothing to do with the estate.
21. As it is, I am unable to grant the orders sought in the application dated 23rd June 2014. I do consequently dismiss the application dated 23rd June 2014, with no orders as to costs.

How can a widow afford the Kenya appeals court fees which range up to 500,000 Ksh.

If you are a woman, post this case on your social media and aid in the fight for justice for widows in Kenya!

THIS JUDGE IN MILIMANI COURT W. MUSYOKA NEEDS TO GO! WE HAVE TO PROTECT WIDOWS AND ORPHANS!
READ THE CASE  FOR YOURSELF: http://kenyalaw.org/caselaw/cases/view/114867/

Teddy Njoroge Kamau (PhD)
BBN TV
HTBluff Associates
Diaspora Messenger Senior Columnist

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3 Comments
  1. LWK says

    I totally understand this case … and I hope and pray that she gets justice, as a wife should have the house she has helped to build and invested in with her husband.

    So, this being said, justice is awaited. I have studied this issue in Uganda as part of a legal internship and find that widows there fare no better than widows in Kenya evidently since husbands or in-laws take the title deeds in their name only and then leverage the property for loans without telling the wife until one day someone comes to claim the land as part of a loan repayment/settlement; or as in the case of dear Sarah and her children, a wife is just kicked out with no legal reason at all–just the brute force of selfish interests. But this issue is about Kenya. So, hopefully something can be done about corruption in the court system. Until then–until the courts and judges themselves obey the Constitution of the Republic of Kenya, justice will languish. But we can pray and do something at the same time. That is why there are Constitutional lawyers who fight to fulfill Constitutionally guaranteed rights, which trump the injustice of men and women. May God speed the appearance of Constitutional lawyers in Kenya’s Court System to clear this and other injustices against the Constitutional rights of those whose rights have been violated!

  2. LWK says

    Why didn’t the judge ask the Serah Muhu and Serah Wangari Kangari to appear before him so he would know who was who and that they were two different women–one the mother-in-law and the other the widow of the mother-in-law’s son? This would have been an easy means of determining what needed to be clarified in the murky judgment. Perhaps in this case habeus corpus should have applied to both women–a demand to bring the women physically before the court/judge so he could have determined if they were two separate persons or one and the same person, since he was confused and failed to clarify the issue. It appears that the mother-in-law wanted more than what she already had received in the estate of her husband since she wanted the widowed daughter-in-law’s part as well as the part of the 4 grandchildren as well! Basically, she is ignoring her own son’s legitimate children of legal marriage.

  3. LWK says

    Why didn’t the judge ask the Serah Muhu and Serah Wangari Kangari to appear before him so he would know who was who and that they were two different women–one the mother-in-law and the other the widow of the mother-in-law’s son? This would have been an easy means of determining what needed to be clarified in the murky judgment. Perhaps in this case habeus corpus should have applied to both women–a demand to bring the women physically before the court/judge so he could have determined if they were two separate persons or one and the same person, since he was confused and failed to clarify the issue. It appears that the mother-in-law wanted more than what she already had received in the estate of her husband since she wanted the widowed daughter-in-law’s part as well as the part of the 4 grandchildren as well! Basically, she and the judge are ignoring her own son’s legitimate children of legal marriage.

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