Two sisters moved the court into tears in a protracted family dispute over a multi-billion shilling estate in Mombasa.
Ms Zeinab Mohammed Sherman and Ms Suaad Mohammed accused their uncle, Mr Awadh Said, of disinheriting them and forcing them to live in squalor.
They said Mr Said had denied them a share of the vast estate valued at more than Sh10 billion by not executing the will of their grandfather, popularly known as Swaleh Nguru, 40 years after his death.
The estate comprises warehouses and ranches in Coast Province running into thousands of acres, land in Kipini-Lamu and the entire Majengo estate in Mvita.
Emotions ran high as the women recounted how Mr Said threw them out of their home when their father, Mr Mohamed Sherman, died 14 years ago and forced them to live in a servant’s quarters.
Living on handouts
The women and their mother, Mrs Barika Sherman, told Lady Justice Grace Nzioka that they had been reduced to beggars and relied on handouts when their father and grandfather were billionaires.
Zeinab added: “My Lady, you do not know this man. He is evil, ruthless and cold hearted. He has tortured us and made us live like squatters, while he continues to live a good life.”
And Suaad said: “My Lady, we are told that we are children of a billionaire, but we have been living on handouts from well-wishers. My uncle threw us out of our father’s house and confiscated our cars. I have sacrificed my time to be in court today because I know this is an important case, yet am supposed to be preparing for my wedding which starts tonight.”
Their mother was enjoined in the case following a petition filed by Mr Swaleh Nguru’s youngest son, Mr Omar Swaleh, against Mr Said.
Mrs Sherman claimed that she was fraudulently dispossessed of her shares in Kilindini Warehouses Limited and by extension the holding company Swaleh Nguru Investment Group.
In 2010, the High Court revoked a will that was allegedly left by her husband after she accused Mr Said of forgery and fraudulently appointing himself as the executor.
She also accused Mr Said of running the family company like his own private enterprise.
Mr Swaleh filed a petition seeking to wind up Kilindini Warehouses Ltd claiming Mr Said had declined to execute the will.
Through lawyer Mohammed Balala, the petitioner says the company started as a family holding venture under the management of Mr Said, who still holds the position of managing director.
The petitioner accused Mr Said of excluding him from the running of the company and failing to account for its operations.
The court summoned the beneficiaries of the Swaleh Nguru estate last week through a court order issued by Justice Edward Muriithi.
During the mention Mr Balala asked the judge to allow the dispute to be resolved outside the court.
“My Lady, the will is yet to be executed and the administrator is now an old man who can die anytime. Some of his brothers died without receiving their share.”
The judge gave the family up to May 15 to resolve the dispute out of court. They were also asked to list the disputed and undisputed properties.