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How woman, pastor faked marriage in plot to inherit Nairobi tycoon’s estate

A preacher and a woman who conspired to forge a marriage certificate in order to inherit a tycoon’s multi-billion shilling estate have been jailed.

Christopher Mutira of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church Africa, based in Ngara Estate, Nairobi, and Marilyne Mercy Wanjiru were sentenced to one and a half years in jail unless they pay a fine of Sh200,000 each.

Wanjiru, who was separately slapped with an additional fine of Sh50,000 for presenting the forged marriage certificate to the Registrar of Marriages for her relationship to Kanwaljit Singh Chadda to be registered as valid.

The court found that the deceased had never married and was a bachelor.

Wanjiru had claimed that her marriage to Chadda, who died intestate.

Pastor Mutira and Wanjiru were convicted and sentenced for forging a marriage certificate and presenting it to the Registrar of Marriages as a genuine marriage certificate.

Mutira and Wanjiru, a mother of two, had in 2018, immediately after the death of Chadda, planned to claim that there was a valid marriage between her (Wanjiru) and the deceased before the tycoon died of a heart attack.

The pastor claimed that he solemnised the marriage between Wanjiru and Chadda on July 27, 2018 and issued them with a marriage certificate number 271140.

It is this marriage certificate that was presented to the Registrar of Marriages at the Attorney General’s Chambers on July 27, 2018, purporting to be a genuine legal document recognising the marriage between the fraudster and the deceased businessman.

While sentencing the duo, Milimani resident magistrate Ben Mark Enkubi said the actions of Wanjiru and the pastor were wicked and ill-intentioned to defraud the estate of the late Chadda, who died of a heart attack in 2018.

“This court condemns the pastor’s act of indulging in crime instead of fighting it by upholding justice. The act has shown the men of cloth in a bad light as demonstrated in this case that Pastor Mutira descended into the arena of crime by signing and issuing a fake marriage certificate to defraud the deceased’s children,” Mr Enkubi said.

The magistrate noted that the deceased was a bachelor at the time of his death and wondered “how Wanjiru contracted the marriage”.

He said the court would not sit by and watch crimes being committed in broad daylight and in total disregard of the law.

“I therefore find each of the accused guilty as charged and sentence each of them to pay a fine of Sh200,000 or serve one and a half years imprisonment in default,” the magistrate ruled.

In mitigation, the pastor and mother of two pleaded for leniency, saying they were remorseful and regretted their actions.

Wanjiru, who was aided by the pastor in her plot to disinherit the children of the deceased, had assets including a house in Ngara where Chadda lived, a motor vehicle, two plots of land in Nairobi, a 7.5 acre plot of land in Shimoni, Kwale County and treasury bonds held at Absa Bank.

She was also eyeing listed shares in Britam, Co-op Bank, Diamond Trust Bank Housing Finance Company of Kenya, KCB Bank, Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen), Safaricom, Total Kenya, Old Mutual and Absa, worth Sh5 million as of December 2018.

Chadda’s family, led by his brother Parminder Singh, say their relative was not married and never had a girlfriend.

Wanjiru is said to be pursuing an inheritance case in the High Court involving Mr Chadda’s estate and the certificate would strengthen her case.

The woman has already applied for letters of administration for Chadda’s estate, but Parminder has challenged this and also filed a complaint with the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) over the forged certificate.

Wanjiru listed her son and daughter, aged 28 and 26 respectively, and her as the surviving beneficiaries of the estate, and that Chadda died aged 76 without a will.

Parminder had in 2019 asked the court to compel Wanjiru to deposit all the money she allegedly collected from Chadda’s properties with the court.

Wanjiru claimed he first met Chadda in Parklands in 1989 when she was 19.

They broke up and later reunited in 1999 and began living together in 2013 until his death.

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