28 February 2012

Kenya: Karume 'Son' DNA Test May Stop Burial

A 45-year-old secondary school teacher from Kiambu has filed a court case to block the burial of former Defence minister Njenga Karume. His suit will be heard this morning by Justice GBM Kariuki at the Family division of the High Court. Edwin Thuo wants Karume's family, his servants and any other persons stopped from burying the politician until DNA material has been extracted from his body.

Once the DNA is extracted, Thuo wants it preserved by the Government Chemist pending the determination of his two suits seeking to establish that he is Karume's son. Karume died on February 24 aged 83 and the family has announced that he will be buried on Saturday at his home in Cianda, Kiambu. Thuo argues in his application that his cases have very good chances of success and that the family will not suffer if the burial is postponed until the DNA material is extracted.

The DNA material would show with 99.9 per cent certainty whether Karume was Thuo's father. On January 27, Justice Majanja dismissed the case because it had already been settled in April 2008 when Karume paid Sh5 million to Thuo and his mother Lucy Muthoni. The judge said the case cannot be reopened because litigation must come to an end.

Thuo had wanted Karume forced to undergo a DNA test to confirm whether he was his biological father. Thuo also wanted Sh101 million in damages from Karume for the suffering endured as a result of rejection. Thuo, who lives in Nairobi, said that his mother Lucy Muthoni used to work for Karume years ago and told him that the former Defence minister was his father. The alleged relationship between his mother and Karume started when Muthoni was 18 years old but ended when she became pregnant.

Thuo alleges that Karume refused to help his mother bring him up. His mother attempted to name him after Karume in accordance with Kikuyu traditions but the former Kiambaa MP refused to consent to the use of his name, according to the original suit. Thuo said he was named after his maternal grandfather although the first son should be named after the father. He had already filed a notice seeking to overturn Justice Majanja's decision.

Thuo also plans to challenge the 2008 settlement with his mother Lucy Muthoni absolving Karume of any claim. His lawyer says that the consent was signed under duress because Karume had recently been serving as a minister. Thuo claims that the Sh5 million paid to him and his mother was meant to silence them. In his defence, Karume accused Thuo of extortion. Thuo yesterday rushed to court under a certificate of urgency as Karume is due to be buried on March 3 and there is a danger that he would no longer be able to collect the DNA material.

Thuo named Karume's wife Grace Njoki Njenga as the respondent in the application. In his original suit, Thuo said that Karume had refused to acknowledge him as his son despite his repeated attempts for recognition. Thuo said he intended to change his surname on official documents, and those of his children, to include 'Karume' in "accordance with Kikuyu culture". Thuo said he wanted the issue of his paternity resolved as his son was getting an ID card and he wanted Karume's name included.

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