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Landmark court ruling on couples and dirty secrets

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The Court of Appeal has issued orders barring a woman from ‘assassinating’ her estranged husband’s character.

The ruling emanates from a bitter dispute playing out in Kenyan courts between two South African citizens who lived together in Nairobi until 2015 when their marriage collapsed.

The landmark decision, which arose from what the judges described as a rather unusual case in which the husband seeks to use the coercive power of an injunction to stop his wife from defaming him, now opens the door for spouses to pursue each other for disparaging information passed on to third parties.

Albertus Lotter Sadie told the court that he was fired from his job as an accountant for Ecobank Transnational Inc. (Ecobank) after his estranged wife, Elsabel Vilhjoen Sadie, sent an email to two senior managers at the bank portraying him as not fit for the job.

“In July 2015 the wife addressed an email to two senior managers of the husband’s employer portraying the husband as ‘a thief, dishonest man, untrustworthy, violent and a mental case’, among other epithets, who should be deported from Kenya,” read part of the court papers.

Paul Amuga, Lotter’s lawyer, said that Vilhjoen had threatened to release further damning information to her husband’s bosses, relatives and their children.Lotter moved to the High Court where he sought damages for libel as well as orders to stop Vilhjoen from further publicising defamatory information about him.

But Justice Joseph Sergon refused to grant him temporary orders restraining his wife on the basis that communication between spouses is privileged.

Aggrieved, Lotter moved to the Court of Appeal where justices Phillip Waki, Gatembu Kairu and Kathurima M’inoti agreed he needed the court’s protection against an aggrieved spouse determined to bring him down.

“The case before us, as correctly submitted by the appellant’s counsel, is totally different. It has nothing to do with publication of defamatory material between spouses.“Here, it is one spouse, the wife, who took it upon herself to destroy the character of her husband in the eyes of the employer and his workmates, and still threatened to do more. Whether in fact the words were true or not will be a matter for trial, but it cannot be argued that there was no publication,” ruled the court.

After firing off the damning emails to her husband’s employer, Vilhjoen flew back to South Africa. In August 2015, Lotter filed for divorce in the chief magistrate’s court in Nairobi. The divorce case is yet to be heard.

The Court of Appeal found that Vilhjoen had to be stopped from destroying her husband’s character by sending his colleagues disparaging information about him until the battle he lodged at the High Court is determined.

The High Court had denied Lotter temporary orders gagging his estranged partner on grounds that husbands and wives enjoy privilege in the event they decide to expose each other’s dirty linen to third parties.

Justice Sergon had ruled that a man and a woman are assumed to be one when they marry hence they cannot turn and sue each other for defamation if they have not divorced.

But the appellate judges ruled that the couple’s case was different, saying that the emails sent to Lotter’s workmates had nothing to do with defamatory materials between spouses.

“With respect, the learned judge misconstrued the authority cited before him and made an error in principle. We are thus entitled to interfere with his discretion,” they said.

The court also heard that Lotter equally wanted to part ways permanently with Vilhjoen but the lower court dismissed his plea on the account that it did not have powers to dissolve foreign marriages.Lotter appealed before High Court judge Farah Amin and the case is awaiting judgement

.The appellate judges observed that since the divorce case had not been settled, Lotter and Vilhjoen were still a legally married couple.

While Lotter had claimed that his wife’s actions were actuated by malice and meant to cause him maximum damage, Vilhjoen denied the allegations. The law, she argued, shielded a spouse from defamation.

She argued that since the marriage had not been dissolved, she still enjoyed immunity from being sued in the event she uttered words that injured her husband’s reputation.

“Under common law, which is applicable in Kenya, a wife cannot be held liable to libel against her husband during coverture, and in the same vein, communication between spouses is privileged and protected by law,” she said.

What now remains is for the trial court to determine whether Vilhjoen’s words against Lotter were true or not, and whether she ought to pay damages to him for defamation.

“We do not interfere with the finding by the trial court that, on the face of it, the words were defamatory. Once a reputation is lost, it is virtually irreversible and therefore damages may not be a suitable remedy. We think in this case, it is just that the wife be restrained from publishing further defamatory information against the appellant until the main suit is heard and determined,” the judges ruled.

The court also slapped Vilhjoen with the costs of the appeal.

Source: Standard Media

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Entertainment

We were not happy anymore – Lilian Muli speaks on split from ex-husband

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Days after K24 news anchor Betty Kyallo opened up to her Instagram followers that she is happy that her ex-husband Dennis Okari has moved on, Lilian Muli has taken a cue.

Speaking to Kalekye Mumo, Muli disclosed that her relationship with ex-husband, Moses Njuguna Kanene, came to a slow, grinding halt and they had to go their separate ways.

The Citizen TV anchor narrated that though the relationship was bliss at first, it reached a point where she felt “strangulated.”

She added that they mutually agreed to part ways and still remain friends to date.

I was young, I was a small girl. That seems like a long time ago but it was pretty romantic. He was my friend, he remain my friend to date. He is an extremely romantic gentleman and so he guided me a lot along that process, it is what it is, things didn’t work out. He is a person I respect to date

We were not happy anymore, and we just got to a place where you know we were not friends anymore, and I felt strangulated, I just felt that the Lilian I knew was getting suffocated in this environment and we mutually opted it was not working. We agreed to go separate ways. It is easier that way, there is no unnecessary drama. Once you have a child with someone really that person is your life forever,” Muli told Kalyekye.

Source: SDE

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PHOTOS: Langata MP Nixon Korir weds lover in exclusive ceremony

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A day after NTV anchor Dennis Okari exchanged vows with Naomi Joy in an invite-only ceremony along Kiambu Road, Saturday the 16th was Nixon Korir’s turn.

The Langata MP wedded his longtime lover Beryl Zoraima at an exclusive wedding held at the Karen Blixen Museum in Nairobi.

The event was graced by family and friends as well as the who’s who in the political and entertainment scene.

Take a look at photos from the ceremony below…

 

Source: SDE

 

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Murder most foul: Woman denies killing her ‘mother’

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Suspect is accused of stabbing elderly woman 15 times in the neck, chest and stomach

Bernadette Njoki Gachinga, 33, was adopted by Esther Wangari Kanuri at the age of three months after being dumped by her biological mother.

But, on the evening of February 23, 2014, Ms Kanuri was brutally killed by unknown assailants at her home in Kihuyo village, Nyeri town. The slain civil servant’s body was found by her husband, Michael Kanuri, lying in a pool of blood in her adopted daughter’s bedroom.

Ms Njoki turned out to be the prime suspect in the murder. It is alleged that she attacked her foster mother while she was taking tea in her living room and stabbed her more than 15 times in the neck, chest and stomach. She allegedly later dragged the body to her bedroom, locked it from the outside and escaped to Nyeri town.

Ms Kanuri, who was suffering from arthritis, had just arrived home from a church service at Kihuyo Presbyterian Church of East Africa.

Although Ms Njoki has since denied killing her foster mother, the court found that she has a case to answer.

During her defence at the High Court in Nyeri on Thursday, Ms Njoki admitted hating her foster mother. The court was told she made Ms Kanuri’s life a living hell after discovering she was not her biological mother.

Justice Abigail Mshila heard that Ms Njoki was a wild and indisciplined girl since her days in high school and was addicted to drugs like bhang and alcohol.

While being cross-examined by State Counsel Emma Gicheha and lawyer Gitonga Muthee for the deceased’s family, Ms Njoki admitted that she became errant and defiant to her foster mother after completing primary school education in 2001.

“I discovered that she was not my biological parent after snooping into a cabinet in the house that was always locked. I was 14 years then and I told my brother that we are adopted children. I became confused and escaped from home for one month to look for my biological mother but I later returned,” Ms Njoki said.

She admitted harbouring a grudge against Ms Kanuri for reasons she did not disclose. She said she was not bitter although Ms Kanuri had not told her she was adopted.

Ms Njoki is accused of stabbing her foster mother to death following an altercation caused by her indiscipline. The disagreement allegedly arose after Ms Kanuri asked her why she had not reported to her workplace in Nyeri town where she was operating a fruits parlour.

The prosecution told the court Ms Njoki, while in high school, wrote a letter to her foster father telling him how she hated her foster mother.

“Remember I wrote to you an SMS telling you that I hate mum. I was angry. I wish I got to know my real mother,” reads the letter.

Source: Daily Nation

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