Standoff over DNA test stalls Sh200m Nakuru succession dispute

Ms Annah Wanjiru Olweny (left) and Ms Norah Atieno Olweny address the press at the Nakuru Law Courts on December 14, 2016, when they sought orders to stop the burial of businessman Eliakim Washington Olweny.

The succession battle for the Sh200 million estate belonging to the late businessman Eliakim Washington Olweny has taken a twist, after a court termed his wife's application for a DNA test a sideshow.

Olweny's widow, Phelesia, instituted contempt proceedings against Norah Atieno, one of two other women claiming to have been his wives, for disobeying orders for a DNA test, to confirm her relationship with a child she claimed to have sired with him.

The failure by Ms Atieno and her son Kevin Odhiambo to comply with the orders, which were issued by the same court in August 2021 and extended twice, is what has derailed the succession case filed in 2017.

Justice Teresia Matheka, who was hearing the matter, had entertained the DNA application for two years until she was transferred earlier this year.

But Justice Samwel Mohochi, who took over the matter, has given a different direction, saying the contempt application was unnecessary and a waste of time and that it would not help resolve the matter.

“The case has dragged on for years … one wonders if the late Olweny is resting in peace with the case dragging on in court and parties continuing to file irrelevant applications,” said justice Mohochi.

The judge further pointed out that the real issues in the case were succession and distribution of Mr Olweny’s estate, but the parties the DNA issue as the main agenda.

Mr Olweny died on November 28, 2016 without a will.

He left behind a vast estate with properties spread across the country, including the Evans Sunrise Hospital, two hospitals within Nakuru Town, over 70 acres of land in Muhoroni and 70 acres in Miwani Sugars in Kisumu.

He also owned several commercial buildings, including Oyster in Nakuru, and estates and apartments in the same county (Kiamunyi and Milimani) and in Nairobi.

Olweny’s wealth is the subject of a tough succession battle pitting his wife Phelesia, Ms Atieno and Ann Wanjiru, who also claim to have been married to him.

Ms Atieno, who claimed to have sired a son with Olweny, dared the court to order for a DNA test but later developed cold feet. This was after Phelesia and her son challenged the birth registration documents of her children.

The court, in granting the request, ordered Ms Atieno and her son to be subjected to a DNA test to confirm their relationship after the petitioners suspected that the said child was not hers.

Justice Matheka stayed the proceedings since the outcome of the test had a bearing on the case. And after the orders were not complied with, she allowed the petitioners to institute contempt proceedings against her.

However, on May 18, 2022, her alleged son, Odhiambo, filed an application challenging the DNA test and sought to have the orders set aside.

In his application,Odhiambo claimed the orders had put his life at risk as he was constantly being harassed and threatened by anonymous individuals.

He further argued that the court issued the order in his absence and knowledge yet he is an adult of sound mind.

“I was never granted the opportunity to participate in the proceedings that led to the order being issued,” he said.

The contempt application was slated for hearing on Thursday but the judge was of a different perspective.

Justice Samwel Mohochi directed petitioners to file responses to Mr Odhiambo's application before the matter is mentioned on May 26 for directions.


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