When Robert Mbugua arrived at the death bed of his mother Margaret Humphrey on a cold morning in March 2009, nothing prepared him for the tribulations that he and his family have been subjected to in courts for close to 10 years now.
On that morning, Mr Mbugua had arrived from Mombasa at 4am and found his mother very frail. They talked for a few minutes. during which he was handed over all the documents pertaining to the mother’s property.
A few hours later, she passed on, leaving behind Mr Mbugua with the task of filing a succession case at the High Court seeking to be the administrator of her property. That was on March 14, 2009.
He was to be the administrator of the estate together with his aunt Sera Siongo on behalf of his siblings.
His mother had chosen him because he was the only educated one in the family, with the rest of his brothers and sister either deceased or mentally challenged.
His mother had died without leaving behind a will.
When he rummaged through the documents with a view to filing letters of administration, Mr Mbugua confirmed what he already knew; his mother was not a pauper. She owned prime property in the outskirts of Nairobi.
In August 2009, he filed for letters of administration and among the properties he sought to be allowed to administer was a 210-acre land in Mavoko, Machakos.
The property was worth Sh1.5 billion then but today the value has risen to Sh5 billion.
The property, Land Reference number 1504/7/R, lies between Orbit Chemicals to the north, railway line to the west and in the south it borders the iconic Africa Heritage house land and on the eastern side it borders the Mlolongo weigh bridge.
In fact the land is just next to Mavoko’s station for the standard gauge railway.
It is this property that has seen its succession case drag in corridors of justice with no end in sight.
There are two sets of litigants laying claim to the property.
Willy Kahore Wanjiku alias Nicholas Nzioka Ndambuki filed his own succession case seeking to be the administrator of the Mavoko property as well as several other pieces of land in Kiambu, Machakos and Nairobi.
He said some of the properties in these areas had been donated to the government to set up various administrative offices. He said the property belonged to his mother Wanjiku Kahore who had died in 1976.
He said the land was registered under Beacon Company Limited where “my late mother Wanjiku Kahore” was the principal shareholder and director.
In an affidavit filed in court by Wamaitha’s sister Siongo, it is said that Ndambuki has been orchestrating a violent takeover of the property through various means.
“I have never known anybody by the name Wanjiku Kahore and now strongly believe this is not a person who has ever existed and further believe this is only a name being used for illegal and fraudulent activities,” she says in her affidavit.
Interestingly, one Margaret Ndambuki in an affidavit filed in the suit told the court that Willy Ndambuki alias Nicholas Nzioka Ndambuki was her son.
“Nicholas Nzioka Ndambuki was educated by his parents that is me and his father Ndambuki Syuki starting with primary school at Kyai primary school near our home and studied up to Standard Seven and then to Kikima secondary school for two years and then to Muiru High school for the other two years (1977 to 1978) where he competed his secondary education. That recently my son Nicholas Ndambuki has disowned me and said he is not my son, despite the fact that he lives at Chumbi on a piece of land given to him by me and his father as our son,” she says.
As the case continued in court, another claimant to the property emerged in 2012 when lawyer Lucas Naikuni presented a will purportedly authored by Margaret Humphrey.
Ms Siongo wonders in her affidavit why the will was introduced so late in the day.
In his affidavit opposing the will, Mr Mbugua says his mother seems not to have got the exact acreage right.
“The testator cannot have referred to her land as measuring 56.99 hectares (140 acres) when her land measures 88.05 hectares or 210.35 acres as per the copy of the title deed. My deceased mother was illiterate and used to execute documents through thumb printing yet this ‘will’ has no certificate of interpretation into Kikuyu. She cannot have made changes to that which she cannot read,” avers Mr Mbugua.
He further says some of the children mentioned are alien to the family. The case will be heard in September before Justice Aggrey Muchelule.