The Court of Appeal has finally put a smile on the face of popular Citizen’s TV’s Mother-in-Law actress Elizabeth Wanjiru when it ruled that she has a rightful beneficial interest in a multi-million shilling matrimonial home auctioned 30 years ago.
Appellate judges Wanjiru Karanja, GBM Kariuki and Jamila Mohammed ruled that the sale and transfer of the disputed property by HF Group #ticker:HFCK to Mugo Muiru Investments Company Limited was illegal and ignored Ms Wanjiru’s equitable interest in the property.
The judges cancelled the transfer of the Loresho property and asked HF Group to reimburse Mugo Muiru the purchase price without interest.
Mugo Muiru bought the property for Sh1 million, but a home in the high-end estate is now worth tens of millions of shillings.
The property was auctioned after Ms Wanjiru’s ex-husband and former Ugandan minister of State for East African Affairs, Shem Bageine, took a loan of Sh600,000 using the Loresho property as security and failed to repay HF Group.
Mr Bageine walked out of their marriage in 1981 after a 13-year stay and went back to his native Uganda in 1987 to build his career after the government revoked his Kenyan citizenship.
“Elizabeth’s interest in the matrimonial home was an overriding, equitable and unregistered interest. Such interest entitled her to remain in the property,” the judges said.
“The evidence in this appeal shows that Mugo Muiru Investments either did not do due diligence or was unconcerned with the occupation of the property by Elizabeth and her interest.”
The judges faulted HF Group for blatantly ignoring the fact that a property of a married couple is co-owned even if registered in the name of one of the spouses. They pointed out that Ms Wanjiru should have been at the very least informed of the sale.
The legal battle for the matrimonial home started in 1987.
Now, the Court of Appeal has also ordered Mugo Muiru, HF Group as well as Ms Wanjiru to settle her costs of the suit.
The judges also pointed a finger at High Court judge Richard Kuloba, now retired, who had ruled in 2003 that even though Ms Wanjiru had a beneficial interest in the matrimonial home, he declined to have her re-possess it.