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Battle of the widows: Major fallout in fight over Sh300m estate

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The High Court on Wednesday directed a succession tussle dispute over a multi-million estate in Nakuru be heard within three days to avert a major fallout that threatens to ruin a family’s wealth.

Justice Antony Ndung’u noted that the estate of the late Eliakim Washington Olweny, which includes among other properties, Evans Sunrise Hospital in Nakuru will be heard expeditiously to rescue it from imminent collapse.

The deceased was a former surveyor with interests in hospitality, real estate and insurance industries among other assets valued at over Ksh300 million. His three widows Phelisia Akoth Olweny, Norah Atieno Olweny and Anne Wanjiru, are tussling for control of the estate whose properties are spread out in Nakuru, Kisumu, Nairobi and Siaya.

“The succession dispute will be heard and dispensed within three days before an administrator is appointed to manage the estate,” directed the Court.

Justice Ndung’u gave the parties 45 days to file and serve their documents and exchange evidence before hearing on September 25, 26 and 30.

An acrimonious fallout was witnessed between the trio upon Olweny’s death in November 2016 at the Nairobi Hospital as they battled over who had the right to inter the deceased. There was a standoff for over a month as the women obtained court orders that disrupted funeral arrangements.

Atieno and Wanjiru then accused the eldest widow of conspiring with her sons Timothy and Edwin to lock them out of the burial ceremony. In a dramatic turn of events the businessman was hurriedly buried at dawn at his rural home in Siaya in Akoth’s compound.

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The widows have separately moved to court wrangling over control of the property. Immediately after his death and controversial burial in 2017, the widows went to court to fight for authority to control the property.

The first widow, Akoth, filed a succession suit in 2018 seeking to be granted letters of administration of the estate together with her two children, Edwin Otieno Olweny and Timothy Ochieng Olweny.

After his death and controversial burial in 2017, the widows went to court to fight for authority to control the property.

But Atieno and Wanjiru moved to court objecting the application by Akoth accusing her of failing to disclose to the court that they were also entitled to a share of the estate. Atieno charges that the first widow failed to name step children and co wives as beneficiaries in the petition, saying she was also a legal wife after being married through the Luo customary law.

Wanjiru also accused the petitioners of planning to disinherit her and her children of their rightful entitlement by failing to disclose to the court their relationship with Olweny, information she claims they knew.

But the petitioners, in their application, denied knowing the other families whom they termed as strangers seeking to inherit her of Olweny’s property.

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Akoth and her children have disowned the marriage between Olweny and Atieno also challenged the birth certificates of their children in court. They objected to the application by Atieno seeking for minimal provision for her and her two children who are still students pending the determination of the case.`

Justice Ndung’u, through a consent order, directed the parties to abandon their applications to allow the case be determined first. Among the issues the court is set to determine include the proof of marriage, beneficiaries’ claim to the estate as well as the appointment of an administrator for the estate.

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