Why Mbiyu Koinange’s son is divorcing wife as he inherits billions

A son of former Cabinet minister Mbiyu Koinange, who is set to get an inheritance of at least Sh3.2 billion, is now seeking to divorce his wife, who recently claimed that he has joined a cult-like church that is eyeing the incoming riches.

Mr George Kihara Koinange has filed for divorce from Lydia Mbithe Kihara, his wife of 13 years. Mr Kihara argues in court papers that the marriage has broken down, and now wants the Chief Magistrate’s Court to dissolve their union.

While the couple wedded at the Ridgeways Baptist Church in 2010, they have been together for close to 20 years.

The divorce application comes at a time when Mr Kihara is on the verge of inheriting assets worth at least Sh3.2 billion in the form of prime land in Narok and Kiambu counties, shares in various companies and cash stashed in various bank accounts. 

His wife claims the cult-like church could emerge as the biggest beneficiary of the Koinange billions. Ms Mbithe has filed an application in the succession case seeking orders to block her husband from dealing in or transferring his inheritance without her spousal consent.

She argues that Mr Kihara had tried to secretly sell off some family assets and the inheritance may be squandered if it is left in her husband’s full control.

Ms Mbithe claimed that Mr Kihara’s newfound religious journey has seen the Koinange scion brainwashed by a church that is led by a “prophetess” identified in court papers as Salome Wanjiru. In his divorce application, Mr Kihara claims that Ms Mbithe has been unfaithful and emotionally abusive towards him.

Mr Kihara adds that Ms Mbithe has refused to have a heart-to-heart talk to iron out their differences. Ms Mbithe, he claims, has been making decisions regarding their children alone.

“The respondent (Ms Mbithe) has been cruel to the petitioner (Mr Kihara) and has demonstrated and deliberately exhibited such acts of cruelty in behaviour, deeds and repeated or persistent acts of unreasonable, depraved and unruly conduct. The respondent has refused to discuss issues affecting the marriage with the petitioner, making the petitioner feel like he was a burden to the respondent and further making the petitioner feel neglected and unwanted,” Mr Kihara says in an affidavit. “I have not been an accessory to, connived at or condoned the cruelty, dissertation or adulterous actions set out in the petition,” Mr Kihara adds.

Ms Mbithe is yet to file a response to the suit.

Mr Kihara says that Ms Mbithe stays out late, leaving their three young children distressed.

When Ms Mbithe sought to block her husband from dealing in his inheritance without her consent, she claimed that Mr Kihara also abandons the family home for days on end.

The Koinange family started holding meetings in April this year with the aim of distributing the dead patriarch’s assets, even as the Court of Appeal handles a suit challenging the equal distribution amongst 12 beneficiaries.

“My husband confessed to me that he is an elder in the said church and, some time in December 2022, he disappeared from home and returned after a few days claiming to have been on a safari to Lamu, Taita Taveta, Nanyuki and Kilimambogo for prayer,” Ms Mbithe says in the succession application.

“At one time, my husband disappeared for several days only to reappear and claim to have gone to Mwiki for prayers and that the only way to get a breakthrough was praying away from home where I would not interfere with their prayers.”

She added that, in the April family meeting, Mr Kihara was accompanied by the prophetess and some men who are members of the same church.

The unidentified men, Ms Mbithe claimed, have been accompanying Mr Kihara everywhere and controlling his movement and interactions.

“My husband’s phone is in the total control of the prophetess who answers the calls at times or switches it off at will,” Ms Mbithe claims in court papers.

When seeking orders to stop Mr Kihara from transferring or dealing in his inheritance without her spousal consent, Ms Mbithe claimed that her husband has been held captive by the prophetess.

Many of the assets are to be sold and equally distributed amongst 12 beneficiaries who include Mr Koinange’s children and grandchildren, unless the Court of Appeal agrees with a challenge to Justice Muchelule’s 2020 decision.