What you need to know:
- Faith Njeri, 51, alleges that Dr Evan Mathenge married her after the death of his first wife Mercy Wanjiku— Njeri’s blood sister.
- She now wants to be granted rights to administer Mathenge’s estate estimated to be worth more than Sh420 million.
- But Mathenge’s relatives are opposed to her bid, saying the alleged marriage between Njeri and their son was based on greed and deceit.
The family of a former Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) researcher who died three years ago wants court to stop a woman claiming to be his second wife from inheriting his wealth.
Faith Njeri, 51, alleges that Dr Evan Mathenge married her after the death of his first wife Mercy Wanjiku— Njeri’s blood sister.
She now wants to be granted rights to administer Mathenge’s estate estimated to be worth more than Sh420 million.
But Mathenge’s relatives are opposed to her bid, saying the alleged marriage between Njeri and their son was based on greed and deceit.
Read: Part I: 2 sisters, dead husband and battle for millions
Mathenge married Njeri in 2013 barely a year after the death of Wanjiku, a former lecturer at Kenyatta University, Kitui Campus, and who was killed in a road crash on July 27, 2012.
Mathenge and Njeri started dating in early 2013 and eventually settled at Kahawa Sukari, Kiambu Country, in the same mansion her sister called matrimonial home, in 2014.
But in an affidavit filed at the Nyeri magistrate's court and seen by the Nation, Mathenge's sister Joyce Muthoni says Njeri cannot inherit her brother's wealth because she is already married to another man.
"The applicant is not a wife of the deceased as she is married ...,'' Muthoni argues in an affidavit she filed in court through Wahome Gikonyo and Company Advocates.
“The applicant's (Njeri’s) elder sister Mercy Wanjiku Mwangi, deceased, is the one who was married to the deceased (Mathenge) and the applicant is not married to the deceased in any way known to law.”
The only person recognised by the family as her late brother's wife, she says, is Wanjiku— who left behind two children.
The succession dispute arose after Muthoni went to court seeking to be granted rights to administrator her late brother's estate, a prayer that was granted only to be declared defective and subsequently overturned.
Muthoni lost authority over Mathenge’s estate after it was discovered that the court overlooked the fact that her application did not meet the quorum of the required number of administrators.
Muthoni wants Njeri stopped from administering her brother's estate, saying her brother's property solely belongs to Methenge's two sons.
"That I have filed this application for the benefit of my brother's minor children and I am in no way a beneficiary because the beneficiaries are the minor children,'' Muthoni says.
“The applicant is motivated by greed to disinherit my brother's minor children when (sic) she has her own husband and home.”
She notes that Njeri was never introduced to them as Mathenge’s wife because it is “even against Kikuyu custom and Christianity for a man to marry a sister to his deceased wife”.
Njeri did not have any children with Mathenge, and Muthoni claims the purported affidavit of marriage between the former and Mathenge dated March 28, 2019 is null and void as the researcher was not in his normal state of mind at that time.
"That at the time of signing the affidavit, he (Mathenge) was admitted at Aga Khan Hospital and he was made to sign and the same was backdated to March 28, 2019 when he was already mentally ill …," Muthoni tells the court.
Muthoni further notes that she has been paying school fees for Mathenge’s children, and that Njeri does not have any right to benefit from their inheritance.
But Njeri insists she married Mathenge after noticing that her sister's children lacked someone to take care of them as their father was “a busy man”.
Mathenge was a rich man— a businessman, a researcher at Kemri’s Centre for Disease Control, a part-time lecturer at three local universities and a consultant to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
He left behind vast assets, ranging from motor vehicles, large tracts of land spread across Kiambu, Nanyuki and Nairobi, shares in listed companies and a fat pension.
The case lodged at the Nyeri court is set for a mention on October 16, 2023.