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Chief orders woman to return dowry to her estranged husband

A family from Muhoni village in Dungicha Location, Ganze Constituency has faulted orders by a chief to have their daughter refund dowry to her estranged husband.

The husband paid Sh34,000 as the bride price.

The family is accusing the Ganze Location Chief Thaura Mweni of colluding with their brother-in-law to frustrate their kin.

In February this year, Sanita Kitsao, a mother of six went back to her maternal home to seek refuge following death threats from the husband.

According to Kitsao, her husband alleges that she is practising witchcraft and that she was planning to kill him.

She went to her parent’s home with two of their children leaving the four under the care of her husband.

Speaking to the Daily Nation, Lemmy Jefwa, a brother of the victim, said the chief has convened several meetings to resolve the dispute between their sister and her husband but he keeps insisting she should give back the dowry.

The last meeting was held on Friday last week.

Risks being killed by her husband

Jefwa questioned the motive of the chief to discuss a matter which involves life threats without putting into consideration the safety of their sister who risks being killed by her husband.

“It is clear that the chief is being biased because he is fighting for the husband to get his dowry back without looking at the death threats he is issuing to our sister. We are not taking this lightly,” he said.

Jefwa said they are worried about how the matter was being handled by the administrator at this time there are rampant killings on witchcraft allegations in the county where suspected men and women are being murdered by their close family members.

“We do not want to see our sister being killed because she has been forced to go back to her husband. We want the Chief to honour her wish to stay out of her marriage without forcing her to return her dowry,” he said.

According to Jefwa, the death threats were reported at Ganze police station on 05/20/04/2020.

Kitsao said the chief has refused to allow her to live by her wish not go back to her hostile husband.

“I do not want to go back to my marriage because my husband claims that I have been recruited in a witchcraft cult by some of his relatives and he has sworn to slaughter me. I will also not refund the dowry because I have given birth to six children and I have been the breadwinner of the family all this time,” she said.

She disclosed that for over 10 years, her husband Kazungu Changa has been subjecting her to domestic violence and the matter was always discussed by his parents who reconciled them.

The last time she was clobbered by the husband is when he came home at night and unleashed his anger on her for delaying to respond to him during the day when he sent his friend to collect a panga for him.

“He started beating me on that Saturday night accusing me of being disrespectful to him but I managed to escape while naked and went to my neighbour who gave me clothes and offered me a place to sleep. I wanted to go back to my parent’s home but we had a family meeting where he promised not to repeat again,” said Kitsao.

However, the husband has never stopped assaulting her in the presence of their children.

Their eldest daughter is 13 while the last born girl is one and a half.

In response, chief Mweni said his orders to have the wife return the dowry are in line with the Mijikenda customary law.

He acknowledged that the couple has been having domestic disputes for long but the matters have always been addressed at the family level.

The Chief said the main reason for giving the two disputed parties several dates to talk over the matter was to give time for the woman to cool down and maybe decide to give her husband a second chance in marriage.

“The woman has refused to go back to her marriage and we cannot force them to stay together and the customary law requires her to refund the dowry so that her husband can use it to marry another woman if he wishes since he is still young,” said Mweni.

Mweni said the husband was at liberty to marry another woman to take care of the four children.

Kilifi County Police Commander James Mugera said police are investigating the matter.