‘Three wise men’ counsel in Sh500m succession dispute

Wednesday March 9 2016

Milimani Law Courts. Four sisters are fighting in the High Court to get a share of their father's Sh500 million wealth in a dispute pitting them against their mother and brother. Their father, Peter Pondo, died 35 years and did not leave a written will. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Milimani Law Courts. Four sisters are fighting in the High Court to get a share of their father's Sh500 million wealth in a dispute pitting them against their mother and brother. Their father, Peter Pondo, died 35 years and did not leave a written will. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By RICHARD MUNGUTI
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Two retired Presbyterian Church clergymen and a senior chief will testify as Kikuyu customary law experts in a property dispute pitting an 80-year-old widow and her son against her four daughters.

The four are challenging in the High Court the award of their late father’s wealth valued at Sh500 million, to their mother and their brother 35 years ago.

Peter Mondo died in 1978, without leaving a written Will.

The witnesses could not, however, begin giving their testimony before Lady Justice Margaret Muigai after objections were raised.

Lady Justice Muigai, of the Family Division of the High Court at Milimani, Nairobi, had sought expert evidence in the case whose judgment is likely to set a precedent in succession law.

“This case seeks to differentiate the customary law and the written law and the August 2010-repealed constitution,” lawyer Elizabeth Wamuyu, for the sisters, told the Nation after a fresh trial date, April 7, was set.

The Mondo sisters Ms Njoki, Ms Wanono, Ms Nyaguthi and Ms Wanjira have urged the court to compel their brother, Mr Ngigi Kitson Mondo, to give them their share of their father’s vast estate, accusing him of wasting it.

But Mr Mondo says that under Kikuyu customary law, unmarried daughters can only claim the portion of their father’s property allocated to their mother when she dies.

He further put a hurdle in the suit by filing a preliminary objection to his sisters’ case, saying it had been determined under the customary law when their father died in 1978, and all the rights to the property vested in him and their mother, Ms Keziah Wanjiru Mondo.

Mr Ngigi also claims the court lacks jurisdiction to determine the case as it had decided on it earlier, thus making it functus officio (it cannot revisit what it has determined).

But Ms Kamuyu says there is a “grave prejudice since the estate is being disposed of to third parties and the daughters may end up being destitute yet their wealthy father left behind their inheritance”.

The estate comprises plots and large parcels of land in Kikuyu Township.