A Tanzanian man is counting losses after failing to provide evidence proving marriage to a Kenyan wife to qualify for an equal share of their matrimonial property.
The man walked home empty-handed, losing their multi-million property following a failed marriage that lasted for over six years.
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.
The court had challenged the man 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.
While delivering the judgment, Mombasa Family Division Judge, John Onyiego, explained 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.
But the Tanzanian man did not present any evidence to confirm his union with the Kenyan woman.
“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.”
The Judge 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.
Also, the court 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.
“To that extent, the issue of contribution does not arise whether directly or indirectly,” ruled Justice Onyiego.
The court battle began in 2017 when the two filed for divorce before Mombasa Kadhi’s court. The man told the court that he came to Kenya in 2007 as a businessman and engaged in buying shoes from Tanzania and selling the same in Mombasa.
“I then started cohabiting with the woman in 2009. I took her to Tanzania the following year and had our union solemnised in accordance with the Maasai culture and customs,” the man stated.
The multi-million property the man is contesting includes land and a modern house located in the attractive South Coast area.
In her defense, the woman 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.
The woman also told the court that she acquired the property alone without the help of the Tanzanian man.
“I was single when I bought and developed the subject plot, we had not started cohabiting,” she told the court.
In the initial ruling, the Kadhi Court had ruled that the two share the property on a 50:50 basis before the woman moved to the High Court which overturned the decision.