It is fifteen years and counting as the body of a woman lies in a mortuary in Machakos County as her sons and step-brothers differ on where she should be buried.
The body of Esther Nzakwa Kitivo has been at the Machakos Funeral Home since 2004 as her sons continue engaging their step-brothers in a protracted succession dispute.
Speaking by phone, an official at the mortuary told the Nation that the body has been in their custody for 15 years now.
BILL IN MILLIONS
“The bill is still rising as each day. It is in millions of shillings,” the official who introduced herself as Jemima said.
“We have not seen her kin for some years now,” she added.
After Ms Nzakwa’s death on August 31, 2004, her step-son, Maurice Ndambuki Kitivo, went to court seeking an order to restrain his half-brother, Michael Musau Kitivo, from burying his mother on a piece of land he claimed was given to him by their father before he died.
In the case at the chief magistrate’s court in Machakos, Mr Ndambuki sought orders to stop Mr Musau from burying his mother alongside their father on the land located in Kitanga in Kalama, Machakos County.
He also wanted a declaration that the land his father gave him be deemed to be his to the exclusion of all other members of his father’s family, and, therefore, his step-mother could not be buried there without his consent.
But Mr Musau argued that, according to Kamba customary law, “the body of his mother should be interred next to her husband’s on the disputed land”.
The court agreed with Mr Ndambuki and rejected Mr Musau’s submissions that his mother’s remains should be buried next to her husband’s grave.
The court noted that the clan had identified a site where Ms Nzakwa would be buried and halted Mr Musau’s plans to bury his mother on the disputed land.
But the ruling by the magistrate’s court triggered a decade-long legal battle after Mr Musau appealed at the High Court.
But Lady Justice Sitati, who heard his case, upheld the magistrate’s ruling and dismissed the appeal.
Jemima said a relative of the woman last visited the mortuary in 2013 but has never returned.
Mr Musau claims that his mother said that she should only be buried next to her husband.
“Burying her elsewhere could lead to a curse,” he said in a 2013 interview.
Efforts to reach him since Friday last week have been fruitless.
He did not pick calls to his phone.
Kola Location Chief Zipporah Kithyaka confirmed to the Nation that Ms Nzakwa’s body has not been interred.
“There is a protracted legal battle pitting family members. I hope they will settle their differences for the woman’s soul to have peace,” the chief said.