A Bungoma judge has set tongues wagging in a judgment in a land case where he warned widows to beware of one Vincent Kiriago Mogambi, terming him a fraudster preying on hapless widows to steal from them.
Justice Boaz Olao ordered him to return a piece of land he acquired from a widow in Webuye, Bungoma County, and warned others who might fall prey to his wily ways to beware.
While quoting Bible scriptures that prohibit oppression of widows, the judge starts the seven-page judgment thus: "Don't touch Mogambi with a ten-foot pole. Avoid him at all costs."
Mr Mogambi, who never attended court to defend a property ownership case filed against him by a widow, had relocated from Webuye to Eldoret.
"If he had filed a defence to this suit and attended the trial, this court would have had an opportunity to caution him on what the scriptures say about men who take advantage of widows to steal from them," said Justice Olao, sitting at the Environment and Lands Court in Bungoma.
He explained that when widows are at their time of distress they need a helper who can shower them with love and offer support, "not deceitful and thieving men whose main goal is to strike at vulnerable widows."
Quoting the Bible in Mark 12:40, the judge said: "They take advantage of widows and rob them of their homes, and then make a show of saying long prayers. Their punishment will be all the worse."
"Unfortunately, this case proceeded ex parte and the opportunity to read those scriptures to the defendant or hear his side of the story was lost. This court cannot be faulted for describing the defendant as a man who preys on widows to steal from them. And following the events leading to this case, the defendant relocated from Webuye to Eldoret hence my caution... to the widows of Eldoret," Justice Olao said.
The case filed by a widow codenamed EAK is seeking to regain ownership of her land that Mr Mogambi had taken. Ms EAK testified that following the demise of her husband in 1997, she fell in love with Mr Mogambi. They cohabited in a 'brief, abusive and tumultuous relationship' from which they got one child. Before that, she had four other children.
During her cohabitation with Mr Mogambi, she borrowed money from banks and together with her personal savings, managed to purchase a piece of land which she developed for her accommodation and rental.
Unknown to her, the man fraudulently and in abuse of the trust that she had in him, registered the property in his name.
The judge said the court's Deputy Registrar will execute all the necessary documents to facilitate that transfer and the title held by Mr Mogambi will be cancelled.