A former chief finance officer has denied claims by his late wife’s family that he married 10 wives and then separated with their sister for 17 years.

The man, James Matele Weindaba and the family of the late Beatrice Nyongesa, have been embroiled in a court battle over who has the right to bury her.

Beatrice, who was a lecturer at Kitale National Polytechnic, succumbed to breast cancer in Nairobi on March 15, 2018. She was married to James for three years and were blessed with three children, two of them twins.

Their children were aged 23 and 21 years. The family of Beatrice told the court that James had no right to bury their daughter since he married 10 other women with whom he sired 18 children.

They claimed that he had also not fully paid the bride price and had only given four cows, a sheep and Sh1,000.

“What he gave us was not bride price but a gift,” Silvester Wabusya told the court. “He cannot claim to have the right to bury my sister since they had separated for 17 years. He even doesn’t know when his elder son was circumcised.”

James told the court he actually sired 19 children with 10 women, but did not marry them as claimed by his in-laws.

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He also clarified that he had made an additional payment of four cows, bringing the number to eight, a sheep and an additional Sh100,000. He said that gave him the right to bury Beatrice whom he said was rightfully his wife.

He dismissed claims that he did not when his son was circumcised, stating that he even organised a “well attended” party on the circumcision day as per Kabras traditions.

The matter moved to court after the family of the deceased obtained orders barring James from viewing her body at Chiromo Mortuary in Nairobi. After moving to court, the Senior Resident Magistrate, Anne Makau, granted him the right to view and bury Beatrice.

The magistrate ruled that “the plaintiff is legally married to the deceased. There is proof they had married, and that he paid bride price for her in spite of their separation. The marriage had not been dissolved through customary means or in the court of law.”

The family of Beatrice obtained another order from Justice Abida Ali Aroni for the body to remain in the mortuary until the case is heard and determined.

But James still went ahead and took her late wife’s body for burial in Mabuye village, Lugari sub-county and buried her after assembling his relatives.

The family of Beatrice have moved to court seeking an order to exhume her body for proper burial

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