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Kiwi calls home after 30 years and says he’s in jail in Kenya

A New Zealander thought to be dead for nearly 30 years contacted his family two weeks ago to tell them he was in a Kenyan jail.

Francis Edward Strange, 56, was detained February 2015, after failing to raise the Shs 1.5 million needed for bail. He was charged with stealing sh63 million from a mining company in Kenya.

Mr Strange, while appealing for a lesser bail, told a court in Narok how other inmates had saved his life after a convicted murderer had twice tried to kill him.

After his appeal, the Narok court agreed to reduce his bail to Shs 150,000, with two Kenyan guarantors and also surrender his passport to the authorities.

The charge sheet states that he stole mining equipment and gold worth Shs 63 million.

The last contact his family had was in 1990 when he was living in Sydney. He moved to Tokyo in 1992.

While speaking to New Zealand’s Herald newspaper, he said; “I love my family. But my family is a little conservative. I wanted to do something where I could make a major difference.”

He told the Herald of his horror experiences inside an overcrowded Kisii GK Prison, where he was one of only two white prisoners.

He is currently out on bail and living in Nairobi.

When his mother received the call two weeks ago, she thought it was a fraudster because she had not heard from her son for more than 30 years. She quickly asked her other son to check him out.

According to his brother, Mr Strange recalled childhood memories that only he could remember.

Since then, Francis Strange has emailed his estranged family lengthy correspondences about his case.

If he wins his court battle, he plans to stay in Kenya and continue with plans to develop a mining plant that will extract like manganese and iron ore.

“We are going to build a mining city,” he said. “Everybody knows that Kenya needs investment. Kenya needs jobs. There’s a lot of people who want to see this happen. But it really is dog-eat-dog here.”

His vision is for a massive mining and industrial city in Taita-Taveta County.

In April 2014, Mr Strange took legal action against Mboe Sambu Resources Ltd, seeking a restraining order on their activities, claiming it was operating without a licence. Nine months later, he was arrested alongside Australian friend and business associate Stephen Samuel Paino and charged with breaking into the mine and stealing equipment and gold worth Shs 63 million.

Both vehemently deny the charges. Paino has since returned to Sydney.