A 30-year-old man could spend five years in prison for allegedly taking a second woman without informing her of the existence of a first wife.
George Gona Charo has become a frequent visitor of the Shanzu Law Courts as his second wife Neema Nijnikant Shah has sued him for bigamy – the offence of marrying someone while already married to another person.
Ms Shah accuses her husband of entering a civil marriage with her despite having already legally married Ms Dama Kaingu.
Mr Charo, who wedded Ms Shah at Shenai restaurant in 2016, is also accused by the Director of Public Prosecution of giving false information to the registrar of marriages - that he was still single.
The charge sheet says Mr Charo told the registrar that he had never married, information he knew to be false, with the intention of having his wedding officiated.
The prosecution notes that the registrar would not have married them had he known the truth.
That is not all.
Mr Charo is further accused of threatening to kill his second wife after she discovered he had another wife.
In her testimony in court, Ms Shah said she was led to believe she was Mr Charo's only wife and that they had even vacationed in Mauritius.
She narrated to the court on Thursday that after their marriage she visited her husband’s rural home in Kaloleni where they had built a house.
“When Mr Charo came out of the house, he never greeted me. He was too rude. He asked me why I did not notify him of my visit. I did not reply,” she said.
She said that instead of responding to her greetings, the man hurled insults at her and threatened to burn her using petrol.
Realising that all was not well, Ms Shah told the court, she left the compound and went back to her house in Nyali.
“He showed me another woman who had three children, whom he claimed was his wife. I was surprised since I was the one who financed the building of the house. I did everything to make sure we built a house at Kaloleni,” she said.
The woman further said that prior to their marriage, she employed Mr Charo as a manager at her company but after the fracas at their matrimonial home, where she discovered the other wife, their relationship turned sour.
Following the disagreement and threats on her life, Ms Shah said her husband stopped visiting their Nyali house and spent most of his time in Kaloleni.
Their pastor attempted to reunite them but it did not work, she told the court.
“The suspect came to my house after the pastor talked to him. He stayed in my house and we slept together but he could only sleep at the far end of the bed. He never talked to me yet I tried to initiate conversations."
She told the court that Mr Charo later left for Nairobi without informing her, and that that was when she decided to report him to police.
Mr Charo denies the charges and insists he has no personal problem with Ms Shah and that he is ready for talks to iron out their differences.
He told the court that the woman was being misadvised by her friends.
“I have never threatened to kill my wife and neither do I hold a grudge against her. If we can have a sitting and sort out these small issues, we can carry on with our marriage,” he said.
Mr Charo further said the woman overreacted with jealousy and that her only intention is for him to send away his first wife.
“This is the cause of all these problems. I think Ms Shah is still in love with me and I also love her,” he said.
The case will continue on June 11.
According to Marriage Act, 2014, "No one in a monogamous marriage can contract another marriage [and] no one in a polygamous marriage can contract a monogamous marriage."
The law also gives the conditions under which a marriage is treated as void. These are cases where the parties are "within the prohibited marriage relationship; either party is already married; by court order consent parties not been freely given (fraud, coercion, mental disorder, influence of drugs, intoxication); either party is absent from the ceremony; parties permit knowingly and willfully permitted an unqualified person to celebrate the union; parties are mistaken about the identity of the other party; or parties enter the marriage for fraudulent purposes."
The punishment for committing bigamy is a maximum of five years in prison.