Keeping up with the Murgors: A tale of fame, fortune and family

Wednesday May 13 2020
ELD

Vehicles parked on a plot owned by the Murgor family in Eldoret town on May 11, 2020. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By JEREMIAH KIPLANG'AT

The one charge that cannot, honestly, be laid against the Murgors, is that they are poor.

With property worth billions of shillings spread across the North Rift, the Murgors are among the wealthiest families in the country.

Like other billionaires, sharing of property is their weakest point. The William and Charles Murgor families have been in and out of courts seeking to resolve property issues for years.

Former Director of Public Prosecutions, Philip Murgor, who has been a prominent figure in the long-winding cases, is hopeful their woes will end soon.

WEALTHY BROTHERS
“We expected to resume on April 24 as directed by the court but now we will have to wait and get further directions from the court as proceedings could not continue because of the pandemic,” said Mr Murgor, who is representing his cousins — William’s children — in a multimillion-shilling property case.

William (who died in 2006) and Charles (who died in 1995) were two wealthy brothers who had a good relationship with former President Daniel arap Moi. But William’s children are now locked in a legal battle over the vast estate he left behind.

William, a former power broker, served as Keiyo Central MP for many years while Charles was a government administrator, who at one time, rose to the position of Provincial Commissioner.
Owing to their positions, they left behind prime properties in Eldoret and Iten towns and healthy bank accounts.

William’s estate is at the centre of a court battle between his children from five unions. He was married to Rosa Kimoi Murgor — who had nine children (including Keiyo North MP James Murgor), Soti Murgor (four children three of whom are deceased) — Rosalina Murgor (six), Anna Murgor (eight but one deceased) and Philomena Murgor (one).

The MP has been accused by his siblings of denying them a share of their father’s property. The complainants are mostly his stepsisters, who argue that they have been sidelined in the distribution of the estate.

THIRD RESPONDENT

The case was filed by Ms Enid Cheptanui Murgor, the MP’s stepsister. Represented by her cousin, Philip, Enid said their father’s property had been distributed unfairly by her stepbrother and claimed the lawmaker had favoured his family.

The MP is the third respondent; his brother, Francis Murgor, is the first while their stepsister, Chemutai Murgor, the second.

The case has, however, centred on the MP, who has been accused of using his powers to arrogate himself the properties without any legal backing.

His sisters have also questioned the authenticity of their father’s will.

Enid — daughter of Anna — told the court that the proposed distribution was not in tandem with the Constitution of Kenya, 2010. She claimed it favoured the children of Soti Murgor, the MP’s mother.

In his response, the lawmaker told the court it was against Keiyo culture to include daughters in the distribution of family property and that they should accept what is in the contested will.

He claimed that he had allocated his sisters two acres of land each on condition that they should not build on it or sell to outsiders.

In March, submissions entered the fifth year with the cross-examination of the MP.

During the session before High Court Judge Hellen Omondi, James was asked to explain why he had granted himself the lion’s share of the estate, including prime land at Kapkoi in Keiyo North.
“I was given the land by my father,” he told the court.

Asked why some of his siblings had not been included as beneficiaries, the MP said: “Mzee did not include them in the will because he did not think they were his biological children.”

DISMISSED APPLICATION

Before the hearings began in 2018, the family had attempted to resolve the dispute out of court. In August last year, they were given 60 days to settle their woes, but they failed.

The involvement of Philip Murgor has also been fiercely contested by the MP and his siblings, who at one point asked the court to bar him from representing their stepsisters.

The judge, however, dismissed the application, saying Philip was acting as a lawyer without any interest on the dispute despite the family links.

Recently, Philip’s family resolved their own issues over the sharing of property left behind by their father, Charles Murgor.

“We sat down and resolved our issues. It was not easy. We talked at each other, called each other names but we managed to sit down with a mediator and reconciled,” the former DPP told the Nation.

“They tried it but the complainants found the mediation environment not conducive for them, so they opted for the courts,” added Philip, who has been acting for his cousins since the case began.

Charles, who died in 1995, had four wives: Selinah Kimoi (five children), Hannah (two children), Christine Chebor (six children, including Philip) and Dinah Chepkoech (four children).

The long-standing dispute had centred on the exclusion of Christine’s children in the sharing of the wealth left by the former PC. Philip’s younger brother, Gilbert, moved to the High Court to challenge the distribution of the estate.

Philip’s family had argued that they had a right to inherit their father’s property in Turbo Constituency in Uasin Gishu and Keiyo North in Elgeyo-Marakwet.

Additional reporting by Titus Ominde