Orphan gets inheritance after 20-year struggle

A 20-year-old student who won a case involving property ownership in the High Court 10 months ago has finally gained her possessions. The High Court had ruled on February 28 in favour of Julienne Niyonshuti, but the court order was only enforced on Monday during the launch of the Legal Aid Week in Nyamirambo, Kigali.
Mukakimenyi (L) signs the declaration to regain the property as officials from the Ministry of Justice look on on Monday. (John Mbanda)
Mukakimenyi (L) signs the declaration to regain the property as officials from the Ministry of Justice look on on Monday. (John Mbanda)

A 20-year-old student who won a case involving property ownership in the High Court 10 months ago has finally gained her possessions. 

The High Court had ruled on February 28 in favour of Julienne Niyonshuti, but the court order was only enforced on Monday during the launch of the Legal Aid Week in Nyamirambo, Kigali.

The court order was enforced by Access to Justice Office (MAJ) bailiffs.

The house in question is located in Mumena Cell, Akatabaro Village, Nyarugenge District.

Niyonshuti was not present but her mother, Géneviève Mukakimenyi, 43, received the house on her behalf.

The case had been delayed by an appeal filed by Généreuse Nyiransengimana challenging the original decision of the Nyarugenge Intermediate Court which had ruled in favour of Mukakimenyi.

Mukakimenyi said her daughter, Niyonshuti, had inherited the house after the death of her father, Julien Mukurarinda.

But later Oliva Kubwimana, Mukakimenyi’s sister in-law, sold the house to Nyiransengimana after unscrupulously getting documents showing that she was the heiress to the deceased.

Mukakimenyi said she had given birth to one child with Mukurarinda but that they had not formalised their marriage when he died in 1994.

Niyonshuti started to pursue the case right from local administration levels but to no avail, until she was advised to seek legal redress by the National Human Rights Commission which also provided her with lawyers.

Nyarugenge Intermediate Court ruled in favour of the orphan on April 19, 2013. Nyiransengimana appealed the case in the High Court but lost.

Nyiransengimana took the battle to the Supreme Court which upheld that Niyonshuti was the rightful owner of the property of her late father.

Constantine Muhire, a legal officer at Access to Justice Office in Nyarugenge District, who handled the case, said the hand-over of the property to the orphan followed all legal procedures.

“I thank the government for recognising child rights,” Mukakimenyi said.

She commended the Human Rights Commission and the Ministry of Justice for their role in helping the vulnerable get their cases solved.

The widow, a small scale trader, said that, from August 1994 up to date, she had been living with her daughter in a rented house in Gitega Sector of Nyarugenge District.

She, however, said there is another case which remains unsolved in which a one Olivier Mulisa grabbed a portion of her husband’s plot and built a house on it.

It is expected that the Legal Aid Week, due to end on December 12, will offer free legal services to 94 children, 10 pregnant women, and 20 breastfeeding mothers, among others.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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