A Tanzanian man is counting losses after failing to provide evidence proving marriage to his estranged Kenyan wife to qualify for an equal share of their matrimonial property.
Identified in court records as HJO alias BJO has lost properties worth millions of shillings to his wife, IMS alias EMS, after more than six years court battle.
The man failed to provide evidence proving that indeed he was married to that Kenyan woman in a traditional Maasai ceremony in order to claim a share of the multi-million property located in Kenya’s South Coast region.
The court heard that the Tanzanian had registered all the property under the name of the wife and had nothing else to prove that he was legally entitled to a share of the wealth.
Delivering the judgment, Mombasa Family Division Judge, John Onyiego, said that in any African traditional marriage ceremony, there are certain activities that happen such as a public ceremony in the presence of elders who bless the marriage, exchange of gifts, and the payment of dowry.
“Unfortunately, there was no evidence adduced by HJO (codename for the man) to prove that the requisite Maasai rites and or cultural practices were performed,” the Judge ruled.
“His evidence regarding Maasai marriage is simply not corroborated. It was upon HJO to adduce evidence to prove the existence of a traditional marriage or the presumption of marriage. A mere allegation that they got married in 2010 without proof is not sustainable.”
Additionally, the judge noted that there was no evidence of improvements done on the property during the coverture and, therefore, the same is not the subject of matrimonial property for division or distribution.
He also noted that the only thing that could have proven his marriage is the date the property was acquired, which was similar to the date he claimed he got engaged to the Kenyan woman.
The court battle between the couple started in 2017 after the man filed for a divorce before the Kadhi’s Court in Mombasa.
The man asked that the woman be ordered to compensate him for causing the divorce.
The couple accused each other of infidelity, dishonesty, cruelty amongst other allegations, and asked that the marriage be dissolved because it had irretrievably broken.
According to the man, he came to Kenya in 2007 as a businessman and engaged in buying shoes from Tanzania and selling the same in Mombasa.
In 2019, he started cohabiting with the woman and took her to Tanzania in 2020 and had their union solemnized in accordance with the Maasai culture and customs.
He claimed that they together bought the land on December 5, 2010, before putting up a modern house consisting of more than 8 rooms.
According to HJO, the property could not be registered in his name because he had not obtained the necessary documentation hence the reason his name did not appear in the ownership documents.
They then moved to the house in 2014, converted to Islam religion, and solemnized their Islamic marriage the following year before the Kadhi.
However, the woman denied ever engaging in any Maasai traditional marriage ceremony with the man or ever being introduced to any of the man’s relatives.
She, however, admitted celebrating Islamic marriage with the man in 2015.
She accused the man of being irresponsible as he never supported her financially and that he was a dishonest person who never disclosed that he had another wife in Tanzania.
Justice Onyiego agreed with the woman after reviewing the evidence, noting that he could not find a record of how the man contributed to the purchase and development of the property.
The judge noted that the property was acquired by the woman before the coverture.
“A declaration thereof made herein that the said property was solely acquired by the woman before marriage to the man and, therefore, her property 100 per cent,” said the judge.