17 November 2012

Kenya: Saitoti Widow, Son Get Orders Stopping Case

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

THE High Court yesterday stopped the proceedings filed by a Subukia couple laying claim on Prof George Saitoti's son Zachary Musengi.

As Justice Isaac Lenaola sitting in Nairobi stopped the case, which was to be heard on November 27, Zachary dismissed the Subukia couple as "fraudsters, pranksters or extremely insensitive persons".

In an application certified urgent before Justice Lenaola, Zachary and his mother Margaret Saitoti say he and other family members have become "accustomed to all manner of correspondence ranging from attempts to extort money, blackmail, threats to our lives and other attempts to invade our privacy".

Zachary says in a sworn statement that in July, a month after the death of his father in a police helicopter crash on June 10, he received a letter from Hari Gakinya & Company Advocates inviting him to Subukia where he would meet people claiming to be his parents.

He ignored the letter only to read in the newspapers stories linking him to a stolen son.

Zachary terms the move as an affront to his constitutional right to privacy and says that words cannot express the harm Sebastian Maina Ngunju and his wife Elizabeth Njeri have caused him and his family.

"The idea that I have lived my entire life as an abductee would be laughable were it not for the utterly unnecessary and despicable consequences the allegations by the interested party (Ngunju) will have on my privacy," Zachary says in the affidavit.

He says he is appalled that one's privacy can be "so viciously violated on the basis of untested, unverified and utterly vague allegations and rumours that have been deliberately made subject of extensive press coverage".

Zachary says that it is beyond him how a "total stranger" could lay claim of paternity to a child on the basis of a picture on television and "notwithstanding that he last saw the child at the age of 3 in excess of 24 years ago".

His mother Margaret says the allegation that Zachary was abducted in Subukia or anywhere else for that matter is false.

Documents filed in court by Ngunju and his wife Njeri, both aged 55, say their missing son was born on September 21, 1985. He was the third born out of five children.

The couple says they searched for their son ever since he went missing in 1988. They filed a complaint with police in 1988 reporting the disappearance.

At one point a woman identified as Mary Wambui Kirubi was charged with abduction but was acquitted by court.

Ngunju has now filed a case against Margaret Saitoti accusing her of stealing his son and concealing the kidnapping.

In his affidavit, filed on November 8, Ngunju claims that he and his wife Njeri are the real parents of Zachary.

Ngunju claims he recognised Zachary as his long lost son when he saw him on TV during the burial the Internal Security minister on June 16.

But Zachary, through the documents he has filed in court in support of the application by his mother, says he could not have been the subject of the alleged kidnapping because he was then a pupil at New Muthaiga kindergarten in Nairobi.

He says the attempt by the Subukia couple to summon him and his mother for the trial in Nakuru is not fair since Margaret is fully occupied in the inquiry investigating the circumstances that led to the death of Prof Saitoti and five others.

"My mother is fully occupied by the inquiry into the circumstances of the helicopter crash that led to my father's death. The inquiry proceedings are at a crucial stage and it would be cruel to compel my mother to travel to Nakuru to deal with interested party's baseless allegations," he adds.

Zachary and Margaret want the court to issue them with a permanent injunction barring the Subukia couple from contacting them, whether directly or indirectly, in respect of the allegations about his parents.

He also wants the Director of Public Prosecutions to investigate the claims by the Subukia couple in relation to their claims and charge them if the allegations are false. The case will be heard on November 28.

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