Kenyan woman, Mukethe Wanza, broke down in tears of joy after a county court on Thursday finally granted her the right to bury her husband who died ten years ago.
The 59-year-old’s late ‘husband’ was a woman named Alice Wanza, who married her through the Kamba tradition that allows a woman to marry another woman should she fail to bear children.
After her death a decade ago, Mukethe was unable to bury her due to a family and property row in which the deceased’s brother demanded to bury the late Wanza in his farm and inherit all her property.
Local media reports that Mutheke obtained a court order that barred her brother-in-law from going ahead with his plans.
“He wanted to kick me out of his sister’s farm so as to inherit it as well as other properties,” she had earlier indicated.
She had also mentioned in court that Alice, before her death, demanded to be buried at a gravesite next to her house at the foot of Mbevo hills in Kalama.
For 10 years, Mutheke has been unable to bury her late ‘husband’ whose body has been lying at Machakos Level Five Hospital mortuary due to the protracted court case that has also been a burden on her finances.
But during Thursday’s ruling, a Machakos court said Mukethe was rightfully and traditionally married to the deceased and hence had the rights to bury her ‘husband’ and inherit her estate, which includes 15-acre land in Kalama village, Machakos County.
Chief Magistrate, Alfred Kibiru, while delivering his ruling at Machakos Law Courts said the deceased’s brother also had no justification to stop Mutheke from going ahead with the burial of her ‘husband’ in their matrimonial home.
“It is the order of this court that the remains of Alice Wanza be released to the plaintiff (Mukethe Wanza) for interment.
“The court orders that the deceased be interred in a piece of land known as Kalama/Mumandu.
“The medical Officer of Health for Machakos Level Five Hospital is hereby directed to comply with the orders accordingly,” the magistrate was quoted by local media Standard.
Each of the parties was also ordered to bear the costs of the suit.
Mutheke and the rest of the family now have another burden of paying about $9,967 mortuary fees since they are short of finances after selling most of their properties in search of justice.