Ms Mary Wanjugu, 76, stares deeply into space, saddened by how toxic her relationship with her two siblings had become.
Her brother and sister were her last refuge. She had gone back to their home in Karatina after her in-laws kicked her out of her matrimonial home following the death of her husband.
The mother of two sons, both of whom are in prison, is locked in a bitter feud with her siblings over a piece of land.
At the heart of her troubles is a 3.7-acre plot inherited from her parents and that was to be shared equally among the three siblings.
Her brother and sister want to seize her share. They see her as an intruder and threats to her life have become constant.
Her troubles started in 1973 when her father Kihagi Mbuthia died on October 3 and were compounded 15 years later after her husband died in 1988.
“When my husband died, his brothers chased me away. They cut down all my crops. I opted to go back home where my parents had left land for us. I didn’t know it would be the beginning of my nightmare,” she says.
The court noted that the deceased “had more surviving heirs than indicated by the administrators in succession cause 281.”
They were the widow, Lucy Wairimu, Kinyua Kihahi (deceased), Wambui Kihagi, Muhuri Kihagi (deceased), Wanjiru Macharia (deceased), Wanjugu Kihagi (applicant), Ngina Kihagi and John Mugambi.
In the judgement at the Nyeri High Court dated June 27, 2019, Justice Mumbua Matheka revoked the grant made to the widow in succession cause 281 of 1995 and granted a fresh grant to the applicant, Mr John Mugambi Kihagi.
The court further ruled that all subsequent actions regarding the suit property, Iraini/Kairia/439, following the issuance and confirmation of the grant “are nullified, all the titles to revert to the original title number Iriani/Kairia/439. The land registrar to act accordingly.”
“The estate LR Iraini/Kairia/439 to be shared equally among all the children of the deceased or their surviving children, if they [are dead],” ruled the judge.
But even with that judgment, the land continues to be Ms Wanjugu’s worst nightmare.
“I reported the matter to the police but the death threats keep coming,” she laments. In February, Ms Wanjugu reported the incident at Karatina police station under OB46/15/2/2023.
According to court papers, Ms Wanjugu’s name was not in the grant issued on April 2, 1996 and it was only added in another one issued on May 16, 1996.
“All I want is my siblings to allow us share the land, but they have refused, they want my share as well, which is not right. If I give them my land and they sell it where will I go? They have held the title deed at the lands office and I cannot access it,” she lamented.
In 1995 her first-born son was jailed for ten years after he was found in possession of bhang. In 2022 her other son was accused of attempted rape.
‘Face my siblings’
“I have never seen my first born son since 1995, I don’t know if he is alive or dead. My second son is in jail for what they say is attempted rape. They gave him a bail of Sh200,000. I can’t afford that. I barely have money to feed myself. I have no one to help me,” she says.
During the interview, she constantly agonised at the thought of going back to Karatina to her siblings.
“I travelled from Karatina today. A friend of mine lent me money to come to Nairobi. When I am away, I feel relieved that I won’t have to face my siblings at least for a few hours,” she said.
“I have no children. All I wanted was to have a share of the piece of land that my parents left for us. I never knew my own family could turn against me.”