A Nakuru court dealt a devastating blow on Monday, March 9 to one Elizabeh Wangari Thuita who has been seeking the custody of her estranged daughter after it granted full custody of the nine year old girl to her father Ephantus Maina
"The minor will be visited by her mother and maternal relatives on the first Saturday of each of the closing school holiday from 2 pm to 5 pm," magistrate Limo ruled adding that the visits will be supervised by the father and relevant government authorities.
In the report, the minor who last stayed with her mother at the age of one year, claimed she was exposed to cruelty and abduction by her mother.
The court further heard that the minor preferred living under the same roof with her stepmother and father.
However, Wangari was indifferent to the contents of the report and insisted that Magistrate Limo's judgement was made based on lies spewed by her estranged husband.
" I have been seeking the custody of my daughter for more than eight years. How can I be cruel to her?" Wangari posed.
Wangari in her subsequent application also accused the magistrate of bias after he committed her to a month in jail for contempt of court without giving her a hearing.
After failing to have Limo recuse himself from the case, Wangari said she will appeal the court decision to the last ruling.
This is not the first child custody case that has drawn public attention. A 10-year-old girl shocked a Kitui court on Friday, January 7 when she burst into tears after the magistrate granted her mother full custody.
The mother was forced to leave the courtroom after the grade-four pupil refused to go home with her.
The Kitui case placed the children's department on the spot after the report it tabled before the magistrate handling the custody case was flagged as being questionable.
In the report, the children's department claimed that after interviewing the minor, she told them she was comfortable residing with her mother.
The two cases if appealed and reviewed by the High Court may set off set off debate on the provisions of the Children's Act, which grants custody of minors to their mothers.
Speaking to Opera News Hub, Mombasa based legal and constitutional lawyer Elaine Mukoya reiterated that the back stops with the children's department. "It is a matter of integrity when officers from the children's department are running financial and social checks. When seeking child custody, both parties must ensure they have lawyers who ensure the checks are run by the book."
Mukoya also absolved the courts from controversial rulings in child custody cases arguing that magistrates make their rulings based on the report tabled before court by the children's department.
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