13 November 2012

Kenya: Saitoti Widow Sued Over 'Stolen Son'

Photo: Capital FM
Zachary Musengi, far right, stands next to his mother, Margaret, as they mourn the late George Saitoti.

A Subukia couple has gone to court claiming that the late Internal Security Minister George Saitoti's son Zachary Musengi is their long lost son who went missing in 1988.

Sebastian Maina Ngunju, a primary school teacher and his wife Elizabeth Njeri, a nurse, both in their 50s have filed a case at the Nakuru Chief Magistrate's Court seeking to be allowed to institute a private prosecution against the late minister's wife, Margaret Saitoti.

They claim that Zachary is their third born in their family of five children. They say their son was born on September 21, 1985 and they named him Stephen Wachira.

In their court documents, the couple says their son was abducted from the family home in Kijabe Farm area in Subukia on August 31,1988, just 20 days shy of his third birthday.

The couple claims they reported the matter to the local police but no action was taken. When they pressed higher authorities, a woman from the neighbourhood, a Mary Wambui, who was suspected of abducting the child was arrested and charged at the Nairobi Chief magistrate's court under case 2545 of 1989.

"At the time of her arrest, the woman confessed to the police that she had been contacted by a police officer who has since died who directed her to get him a child," Maina says in the affidavit he filed with the court.

He said the woman was only charged after the then director of the Criminal Investigations Department, Noah Arap Too personally intervened in the after to have the suspect charged.

Maina claims that during the proceedings of the case, several CID officers involved in the investigations prevailed upon him to drop the matter. The case was then abruptly terminated after Maina started receiving threats from a Special Branch officer based in Nakuru.

"I was told by the officers involved in the case that my son was at the Vice President's house and that he had already been taken abroad for studies and as such I should drop the matter immediately," Maina says. At the time--1989--Saitoti was President Moi's Vice President.

Maina says that he lived with suspicions of the matter until he saw Zachary on television in June this year during the Saitoti's burial. "I never stopped searching for my son though. In fact at one time, I got work at the Vice President's home pretending to be a stone mason with the hope of seeing my son, but I never did," Maina adds.

He says that when he spotted Zachary seated next to Saitoti's widow during the burial, he immediately knew that he was his son as he "closely resembled my children and without any doubt, I recognized him."

The couple's lawyer, Hari Gakinya told the court that they had tried to be civil about the matter including writing to Margaret and contacting the head of the Catholic Church in Kenya, John Cardinal Njue to arrange a meeting with Zachary and his mother but all efforts had so far been unsuccessful.

The Star saw a copy of a letter dated July 18 this year, written by Gakinya to Zachary where he revealed that his clients were sure that he was their long lost son. In the letter, Gakinya notes that he had written several times to Zachary's mother with the hope of settling the matter amicably but his mother had not responded.

"Our clients are people of means and they do not wish to take any money from you or your mother. They just want to see you, talk to you and let you know that your family is still alive, intact and they love you," the letter reads in part.

According to Gakinya, Zachary is yet to respond to the letter.

The couple claims they wrote to the Director of Public Prosecution Keriako Tobiko seeking to have the case re-opened but the DPP told them that the matter was dispensed with in the 1989 case that found the woman named Mary Wambui not guilty.

The couple says they have now been forced to resort to private prosecution under Section 261 of the Penal Code which provides for prosecution for wrongfully concealing or keeping in confinement a kidnapped or abducted person.

Gakinya has said that if they are granted leave to begin their private prosecution against Saitoti's widow, the first step would be to request a DNA sample from Zachary in order to prove his biological parentage.

"My clients just want the young man to know the truth about where he came from and about his family," Gakinya said. The magistrate is set to rule on the matter on Wednesday, November 14.

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