Estranged wife loses bid for hefty upkeep as court advises job hunt

Sunday June 30 2019

An estranged wife who had hoped to win $3,000 (Sh307,020) in monthly maintenance fees from her husband left court crestfallen on Friday, after losing the case and being advised to find a job.

Milimani Senior Principal Magistrate Agnes Ndunge Makau noted that Ms Hebret Lakew de Oliveira, a Senegalese national, had a good educational background.

The magistrate said the fashion designer and holder of a political science degree could secure employment in the United States or the United Kingdom if she wanted to.

She also noted that the petitioner had extensive networks in the fashion industry.


Dismissing the case with costs, Ms Makau said Hebret was out to extort money from Mr Thiery de Oliveira, who works with the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep).


In her prayer for maintenance, the woman had said the union was irretrievably broken and that she had moved into her sister's small house. She had wanted to be awarded amounts including Sh180,000 for rent.

The magistrate said, however, that courts can only intervene where one of the spouses is too old to work or unable to secure employment.

“She has not filed evidence to prove she is entitled to the $3,000 yet she told Immigration she is disinterested in renewing her work permit," Ms Makau added.

"As such, I find and hold her to be aiming at extorting money from her husband."


Thiery and Hebret got married in New York, the US, in 1996.

They later moved to Kenya where Thiery continued to work with Unep while Hebret opened a fashion and design business.

The court observed that in 2006, the woman closed her business after writing to the Immigration Department saying she was not interested in renewing her work permit.

Amid marital problems in 2016, Thiery removed Hebret's name from all bank accounts.

Hebret had been receiving $530 (Sh54,240) from her estranged husband.


The court added that the man presented documentary evidence that he was not in a position to raise the $3,000.

Ms Makau further noted that Thiery, an Ethiopian national, pays school fees of $9,000 (Sh921,060) per term for each of their two children.

The children study at high-end institutions in Canada and England, the court said, adding Thiery also paid for their upkeep.