A court in Mombasa has allowed the dissolution of a 21-year marriage between a bishop and his wife on grounds of desertion, adultery and denial of conjugal rights.
“It would be unjust to compel the parties to remain together in a union where both parties have given each other their backs and no one is ready for reconciliation,” ruled Mombasa Resident Magistrate Joshua Nyariki on Friday.
Bishop Evans Mayenyo Elegwa filed for divorce while his wife Pastor Hellen Jalenga Luyali filed a counterclaim for a share of the matrimonial property which was disallowed.
The preacher, who ministers at Bahari Pentecostal Church in Mombasa, told the court that his wife deserted their matrimonial home in 2016 and was not willing to return.
He submitted that all was well in their union since 1995 when they got married until 2014 when he went for further studies in Singapore for two years. Upon his return in 2016, the Bishop testified that his wife had changed and refused to join him at their matrimonial home in Mombasa after they had attended his father’ burial in Kitale.
He said the two have not had sexual relations for more than three years.
“After I returned from Singapore I noticed she had changed. She had become rude and uncooperative and even denied me my conjugal rights,” said Elegwa.
He further accused his wife of cruelty pointing out that there was no longer any trust or goodwill left in the marriage. The bishop also accused his wife of selling off family property in Kitale without seeking consent from him.
“She destroyed two semi-permanent houses and stores built on the said land and went away with all household equipment and personal effects,” said Elegwa.
But Luyali argued that her husband chased her away from the matrimonial home in 2016 upon his return from Singapore. She denied that Elegwa ever tried any reconciliation with her.
“He has broken the marriage himself because he wants to marry another wife. Because of his unfaithfulness, he is willing to break the marriage without considering my welfare,” said Luyali.
She also denied selling any property at their rural home in Kitale and abandoning their children and petitioned the court to divide the wealth the two acquired together as man and wife equally.
“The court should order that he surrenders half of the properties pending the hearing and determination of this application and to pay special damages for wasting my life since 1995,” said Luyali.
The bishop told the court efforts to reconcile with his wife through senior pastors, counsellors and elders had failed.
Delivering the ruling last Friday, Resident Magistrate Joshua Nyariki said that he was satisfied that the Bishop had proved that the marriage had irretrievably broken down.
Nyariki allowed the couple to try to work it out for the last time within the next 12 months before the marriage is declared completely dissolved.
“We should not be 100 percent pessimistic. No one knows what tomorrow brings,” said the magistrate.
Nyariki also advised Luyali to file the issue of matrimonial property at the High Court saying it was beyond the magistrate court’s jurisdiction.