A year after the death of DPP secretary general Ecklain Kudontoni, a wrangle has erupted between his family and ‘wife’ over his estate, rendering children destitute.
According to an affidavit the family presented to the High Court, which Nation on Sunday has seen, the late Kudontoni is said to have been unmarried, but had 10 children.
This is contrary to information presented during his funeral, where only four children were declared.
The family has disowned Faith Kalinda, a woman who is claiming to have been married to Kudontoni for 14 years, arguing she does not deserve a share of the estate because they separated three years before the death of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) secretary general.
But in a separate interview, Kalinda insisted that she was Kudontoni’s legitimate wife, adding that together with him, they worked hard to acquire all the property under contention.
“I got married to Ecklain Julius Kudontoni on 23 October, 1998 under Malawi customary law and in 2001 we processed our marriage at Salima District Commissioner’s office, where we were issued a Malawi Government Marriage Certificate,” said Kalinda, who claims to be struggling to earn a living after the Kudontoni family took away everything from her.
According to the late SG’s sister, Madalo Kudontoni, who alongside one of the deceased’s children, Felix, 19, applied to the High Court to install them as the estate’s administrators, Kalinda has no share in the property because they had separated.
“It is true she was legally married to my brother, but they separated in 2013 on irreconcilable differences; hence, she cannot claim a part of the property. And you must know that my brother’s wealth comes from the family. Our late father left some money and property for the whole family, which we agreed as a family to use to support my brother’s political career and that’s what made him to be what he was,” said Madalo.
The list of the deceased estate under contention confirmed by the family include a fenced four-bedroomed house in Area 49 (Dubai), a three-bedroomed house with a servant’s quarter in Area 49 proper, near Admarc, a fenced three-bedroomed house and four shops in Salima, a commercial plot in Area 3 and another plot in Area 50, a Mercedes Benz and two-tonne lorry.
According to family records and interviews, Kudontoni officially married twice in his life-time. He married Hanna Kandodo in 1996, before they separated in 2000, and she died in 2001. From both marriages, Kudontoni had two children each.
Despite an announcement at his funeral that he had four children, Kudontoni had 10 children, with six of them only known during the funeral. The 10 children are listed in one of Kudontoni’s diaries, which was handed over to the family by the police as part of items collected from the accident spot.
“We did not know the other children—but they showed up at the funeral with their mothers claiming that my brother had told them to inform us that he had this information in his diaries—and when we checked the list corresponded to names of the children and their mothers,” explained Madalo, whose name appears in another diary as the next of kin in case of an accident or illness.
Court files also show that Kudontoni had 10 children.
Kalinda is also aware of the list of the other children, but insists that these were children from girlfriends, who also deserve a part of the wealth. However, she says she remains the wife to late Kudontoni because she had been with him up to the day he died.
“As I am talking to you now all these children are stranded—they are out of school because no one can pay school fees for them,” she added.
During Kudontoni’s funeral, which President Peter Mutharika attended, the family paraded one of the women Kudontoni had a child with as an official wife, despite indicating in an affidavit that the deceased was unmarried.
In an interview Salima district commissioner Rodney Simwaka confirmed receiving a complaint from Kalinda.
“This is all the more reason we encourage people to have a Will,” Simwaka said.