Kirima wills invalidated in fight over property (Kenya)

Two wills allegedly written by former assistant minister Gerishon Kirima issuing instructions how his estate should be shared were nullified yesterday and the warring family given seven days to appoint two administrators .

Annulling the two wills— one submitted by Kirima’s widow Teresia Wairimu and the other by his daughter Anne,—High Court Judge Isaac Lenaola said he could not make a distinction between the two.

He said neither of the wills met the formal requirements “as to the attestation” and he therefore declared them invalid. He said he could determine which of the two wills were authored by Kirima and the state of his health at the time he is alleged to have done so.

Anne presented a will that she said her father allegedly authored in a London hospital in September 2010 where he was admitted for treatment after some of his children whisked him out of the Nairobi hospital.

His widow presented a will she claimed Kirima had written on July 20,2006 when he was unwell and under her sole care. This will was written while Kirima was in Nairobi.

Yesterday, Justice Lenaola said that on both occasions when the late Kirima was alleged to have written a will, he “was a pawn, in a game of chess where each side of his family was playing against each other. In the end, his free will was lacking and his action can only be said to have been undertaken upon undue influence.”

Justice Lenaola said after invalidating both contested wills, “it follows that the deceased must be declared to have died intestate (without a will) and so I find.”

“His estate shall be distributed under intestacy law but that is not the end of the matter. The family of the late G.K. Kirima must find a way of putting closure to the subject of his estate,” he said.

Justice Lenaola said the former Starehe MP had set up the Kirima Trust before he fell ill, which he found to be genuine and implored upon the warring family members to use it to ensure that his property does not go to waste. He said the family needed to resolve their disagreements first.

He directed Teresia Wairimu and Anne to each appoint an administrator within seven days to jointly administer the estate until the property is shared out according to the Succession Act.

If both parties failed to appoint an administrators within the stipulated time, Justice Lenaola said the court will appoint a co-administrator “according to the Law of Succession Act and distribute the estate”.

The court also directed the file to be taken before a Judge of the Family Division of the High Court, for further directions.

He said that despite the measures that he and Justice David Maraga had put in place to save the estate from depletion,neither of the parties had been able to work together with Kirima’s brother, James, who was appointed to manage the same.

“The fact that they had the guidance of seasoned advocates did not help the situation. James in my view is a genuine old man with the sole interest of guiding his divided brother’s family. But in the end the venom exhibited by both camps made him ineffectual,” the Judge said.

Justice Lenaola said that had he validate one of the two wills, the Kirima family dispute would not have ended. “It is clear that some properties may have been transferred to some members of the family and to strangers under suspicious circumstances and the estate has huge debts owed to KRA and a land in Njiru is the subjected on a number of law suits and has been invaded by squatters,” he said.

Justice Lenaola said that there was no goodwill from any of the sides and “sadly it is the whole family that will continue to suffer unless sanity prevails.”

Kirima, a wealthy businessman estimated to have real estate worth Sh2 billion died on December 2010 while undergoing treatment at a hospital in South Africa after having spent a week in a coma. A post mortem report released a month later indicated that Kirima died of pneumonia and chronic renal disease.

Wairimu who is Kirima’s third wife and her step children started fighting over the property even before his death.

Kirima was polygamous. His first wife- Agnes Waruguru, with whom he had seven children has since died, while he was separated from his second wife and mother of two, Grace Warwathia. At the time of his death, he was married to Teresia, who bore him four him four children.


Kirima wills invalidated in fight over property
Sam Kiplagat
June 7, 2013
The Star