Anxiety and uncertainty have gripped Nyarach-Rongo village, Kambija sublocation in Migori county over burial and marital disputes of a banker.
The late Thomas Ochieng-Anyumba, who was Cooperative Bank’s Busia branch manager, collapsed and died on September 19 after complaining of chest pains for four days.
His body has been lying at Avenue Hospital in Kisumu after his “estranged” first wife sued her “co-wife” and the husband’s eldest brother citing burial and marital dispute.
The first wife—Esther Achieng Owiyo, who hails from Kawagare village, East Kagan location—works as a nurse at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH), and successfully obtained a court order stopping the buried set for October 3 at the deceased’s home in Nyarach-Rongo village.
Recognised by family
That was after she was informed about the husband’s death and travelled from Nairobi to discover that the man had a “second wife” called Winnie Magambo from Gwassi who is known and recognised by her matrimonial relatives.
She then filed insisting the “co-wife” is a stranger who should not be allowed to participate in the burial arrangements as the deceased’s wife.
Her case No. 466 of 2019 was successfully filed and granted before Kisumu Principal Magistrate Robinson K. Ondieki against Avenue Hospital management, Winnie, Jack Anyumba who is her husband’s eldest brother and ‘others’.
Through lawyer Wilberforce Akello of Nairobi-based Robson Harris & Company Advocates, Esther contended that Winnie be treated as a stranger and that she (Esther) should play the leading role in the burial.
Her lawyer also told the court that his client was being excluded in the burial arrangements while important documents relating to the deceased and his death were being withheld by the defendants/ respondents.
But Winnie, Jack and the eldest sister to Ochieng-Anymba called Tabitha maintained in the court that they have never barred or excluded Esther from the burial arrangements as she purported.
They informed the court that even a meeting that was held on September 25 between their family and members of Nyarach-Rongo clan and four representatives of Esther’s Kagan clan, was attended by Esther and her “co-wife” The Kagan delegation that attended the meeting chaired by one Mzee Jared Osiany at the late Ochieng- Anyumba’s Nyarach-Rongo village home included Esther’s paternal uncles Lazaro Owuor Aron, and James Mbwa Aron, her brother Tom Odhiambo Owino Owiyo and one Chief Sospeter Ochieng.
Mzee Osiany and the two sides asked Anyumba’s family members and Esther to seek peace, understanding and harmony so that the late Ochieng-Anyumba is accorded a decent burial.
During the inter-clan meeting to iron out issues of burial and marital status regarding the ‘second wife’, it was purportedly resolved that a house be built for Winnie in the deceased’s home under Luo customary laws while the burial permit had to be issued to Esther, Winnie and their mother-in-law Jane Anyango Anyumba.
The Anyumba family, through the mother-in-law, promised they would seek peace with Esther with a view to according Ochieng-Anyumba a decent burial that he deserves. But Mama Jane maintained that they would not disown the deceased’s second wife.
Both at the inter-clan meeting and legal pursuit in Kisumu, the bone on contention seem to be the anticipated sharing succession or sharing of the late OchiengAnyumba’s assets.
He reportedly had several property including a 33-unit residential flat at PolyView estate and a maisonette under construction in Mamboleo both of which are in Kisumu, as well as a Mitsubishi car that has since been taken away by the first wife under unclear circumstances.
As the case was going on in Kisumu, a group of hired persons allegedly towed it away. It was by then being used to transport family members to places of need in the pre-burial activities, including attending court sessions.
The inter-clan meeting’s chairman, Mzee Osiany, added: “If there is a will on how the late Ochieng-Anyumba’s assets are to be shared out, then that document will guide.”
In the legal battle in Kisumu, Esther maintained that she had never deserted her husband to warrant any decision by him to move on and marry another woman. She also insisted that she should be given powers to decide on a befitting burial for her husband without any undue interference by the defendants/ respondents or anybody else.
Her lawyer also maintained that his client deserved to be given all the documents relating to the husband and his death in accordance with the law.
But Jack and Tabitha contended that their late brother was never living with Esther since she relocated to Nairobi.