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At her age, former Miss Tourism Kenya Debra Sanaipei should be raising a young family and enjoying the pleasures of young adulthood. However, as fate would have it, she was thrust in a straining court case that had age-old and deep-rooted ethnic undertones centuries old. To begin with, her father, William Ole Ntimama, had the unfavorable reputation of being tribal, with claims that he had once declared Kikuyus in Maasai land should lie low like antelopes. Then a twist happened; Ntimama’s favourite daughter, Vivian Talash, got married to Eric Kimani, a Kikuyu. For a minute, it appeared like love had triumphed over tribalism. However, the gods had something else in store, and a string of events began unfolding. Three events to be specific. Ntimama died. Then Ntimama’s wife, Mama Dorcas died years later. She left a substantial amount of wealth in Vivian’s hands. Then fate completed its three-part performance with yet another final devastating blow.
Vivian died at the youthful age of 42.
It so happened that Dorcas invested part of her inheritance from Ole Ntimama, who died in September 2016, with Vivian, a decision allegedly informed by her husband’s will.
According to the late politician’s Will dated June 24, 2015, properties bequeathed to Dorcas were to be inherited by his last-born daughter Vivian including land in Lavington Estate and CIS Mara/Olopito.
In consideration, Ole Ntimama had instructed Vivian to make provision for the upkeep, comfort and maintenance of his wife Mama Dorcas and to generally take care of her in the course of her life.
Eric claimed the property that had been left by Vivian, claiming to be her sole surviving beneficiary.
Some of the other Ole Ntimama children – Amos, Timothy, Sanau, Lydia and Sanaipei – were appointed as the mother’s legal guardians and managers of her affairs after she was diagnosed with dementia and memory loss.
Through lawyer Omwanza Ombati, the siblings opposed their brother-in-law’s claim to the account, arguing that their sister Vivian was not a joint investor or owner of the funds held by Britam but was “merely a signatory for the purposes of assisting their mother Dorcas”.
In the ruling rendered by Justice Alfred Mabeya on behalf of Justice Francis Tuiyott, the High Court in Nairobi, the judge noted that the joint account opening form (filled by Vivian and Dorcas) was silent on how their respective interests were to be treated in the event of death.
Further, there was no evidence that the mother and daughter had an agreement in this regard.
“The court, therefore, takes it that, without more, the place to start is that Mama Dorcas is the sole owner of the monies in the bank account. This is because Vivian predeceased Mama Dorcas,” said the judge.
With this pronouncement, Debra and her siblings were awarded the contested estate.
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