A bruising battle is brewing between trustees of the late Njenga Karume’s estate and his children after one of the former minister’s prime property was put up for sale.
It has emerged that the looming sale of the property, including the iconic Village Inn in Kiambu County, caught Mr Karume’s children and their lawyers unawares.
The properties on sale, which were advertised in the local dailies, includes 11 parcels totalling 111.24 acres of the Kacharoba Farm land.
The Karume estate has been the subject of bitter wars between the trustees he appointed before his death in 2012 (George Warieri, Kung’u Gatabaki and Margaret Nduta Kamithi) and his children, who want the trustees replaced for allegedly mismanaging the estate.
Lawyer Peter Munge, who represents three of Karume’s children – Albert Kigera Karume, Samuel Karume and Lucy Karume -- yesterday said his clients had not been consulted about the intended sale.
“We are definitely going to contest this in court because as trustees, they should act in the interest of the beneficiaries. That they can start selling property without even the courtesy of informing them is unfortunate. Besides, the intended sale is in breach of court orders since only a portion of the Kacharoba Farm had been agreed was for sale,” Mr Munge said.
A Karume family source, who requested not to be named, said that the announcement had caught them unawares and that they had decided to challenge it in court.
The source said the beneficiaries had only got a hint that the trustees had borrowed Sh300 million from GT Bank and also wanted to settle a Sh400 million tax demand but had not received the family’s consent to sell the property.
“We had proposed that we use a different means to settle the debt because selling property means we will not end up with anything. It’s unacceptable for sure,” said the source.
Mr Munge accused the trustees of failing to disclose how Sh357.5 million they got from the sale of some 40 acres a year ago was used, insisting that the proceeds should have been sufficient to settle the tax and any other obligations.
But the trustees' lawyer, Peter Macharia, dismissed claims that proper disclosures had not been made on how the sales proceeds were spent. He also termed claims that the sales advertisement caught Karume family members unawares ‘dishonest’, noting that the pending bills were much higher than the proceeds from the previous sale.
“This is really sad because there has been mediation between the family and th trustees and apart from only two family members who did not attend, all those present agreed on these sales,” Mr Macharia said, adding that the family had met the trustees without the lawyers.
The High Court in January stopped the trustees from using funds from the sale of Kachoroba Farm unless directed by the court.
Justice Roselyn Aburili ruled that there would be no more disbursement of the balance of the proceeds of sale of Kachoroba Farm land until the court issues further orders.
Before he succumbed to cancer on February 24, 2012, Karume had put all his wealth under three holding companies to be managed by the Njenga Karume Trust under the trustees.
His children went to court in 2015 seeking to replace the trustees. The battle ended with the 2016 ceasefire involving a resolution to sell part of Kachoroba Farm for purposes of settling medical expenses of the ailing beneficiaries, maintenance of beneficiaries and to meet education expenses.
The family is set to meet the trustees today, with the mediators expected to try and calm a major family fallout from the former politician’s estate.