Family members fight for Kanyotu’s billions
The scramble for former spy chief James Kanyotu’s multi-billion-shillings estate took a new turn in court this week as doubts arose over the parentage of some alleged family members, leading to an application to exhume his body for DNA testing.
The dispute is turning out to be a mega show of betrayal among putative family members, with a mother turning against her children, and the children turning against each other.
The latest row erupted after a DNA test by Dr John Mungai revealed that some of those claiming a share of his billions are not his children.
It escalated following the sale of a 1,400-acre farm in Nyandarua County for which the Kanyotu estate received over Sh300 million. The land is being used to create the Sh22 billion Mt Kipipiri Golf Resort.
The scramble for Kanyotu’s wealth started after his death in 2008, with some women claiming he had children with them and others saying they were his children borne out of wedlock and sought to be considered as beneficiaries.
Mr Kanyotu’s wealth, estimated to be over Sh20 billion, is invested in several properties spread across the country including three investment companies – Half Moon, Full Moon and Cloud Limited.
He had shares in Barclays Bank, Sameer Group, Kenindia Assurance, Kentmere (1986) Ltd, Middle East Bank, Kenya Tea Development Agency KTDA), Kenya Melamine Manufacturers, Collindale Security and Collindale Limited.
He was also a shareholder in Kangaita Coffee Estate, Acacia Court, Acacia Renovators, Pine Court, Sonara Kwakanja Ltd, Shylocks Ltd and Metropolitan Health and owned huge chunks of land and buildings in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kiambu, Gilgil, South Nyanza, Kirinyaga and Nyandarua.
Although Mr Kanyotu’s first wife, Mary Wanjiku, and her four children were known, two other women, Jane Gathoni and Margaret Nyakinya who claimed to have been married to him, were made administrators of his estate after DNA tests confirmed the paternity of their children.
A fourth woman, Mercy Mumbi Mathenge, also claimed to have had a child who is still a minor with the former spy master.
Forty-year-old Willy Kihara Njoki claimed to be Mr Kanyotu’s son and that it is Kanyotu who took care of him after the death of his mother when he was seven.
The entry of Mr Kihara and Ms Mathenge created suspicion among the children of the three recognised wives, and through a consent entered before Justice Luka Kimaru they agreed to subject themselves to a DNA test.
The resulting report from Dr Mungai concluded that Mr Kihara and Ms Mathenge’s child were not related to the family since their DNA results did not match any of Mr Kanyotu’s children.
“After DNA examination of all claiming to be beneficiaries, the tests confirmed that nine children had a common biological father while Willy Kihara Njoki and Clint Mathenge were fathered by two different biological fathers,” Dr Mungai said in his report.