The mother of New Zealander Francis Strange had the shock of her life when the son she thought had died around 30 years ago phoned her from Kenya to tell he he had been recently jailed after being accused of stealing thousands of pounds worth of Gold.
Francis, originally from Paeroa, New Zealand, moved to Australia in 1981 before relocating to Tokyo 11 years later and teaching at an English language school.
He moved to Kenya in 2014 saying he wanted to build a mining city but had broken all contact with his family who assumed he had died.
After not contacting them since 1990, the 56-year-old revealed in the phone call that he had spent six months in an overcrowded prison after he was accused of stealing more than £280,000 worth of gold and equipment from an African mining firm.
He also told his shocked family how a convicted murderer had twice tried to rip his throat out and another prisoner beat him over the head with a kitchen pot.
Francis was jailed in February 2015 and is also accused of breaking and entering, as well as damaging property at the mining company’s base in the Kenyan town of Narok.
His mother, Liz told the New Zealand Herald that the family assumed he was dead and his brother Gerald quizzed the phone caller to prove his identity.
After providing some very specific details, Gerard was soon convinced he was chatting to the brother he thought had died.
“We hadn’t heard from Francis for nearly 30 years.
“To get this out of the blue, we thought it was a scam.
“I talked to him and tried to ascertain, through asking some questions that only he’d know the answers to.
“I said to him: ‘We don’t know if this is you or not. It could be any English-speaking person, really’.
“He sounded very calm. It was almost an everyday talk.
“He said a couple of things that I’d forgotten about, too, and so I rang my mum back and said I was pretty sure it was kosher.” – Gerard Strange
Following his arrest, Francis was unable to pay his bail of roughly £6770, but after a five-month appeal battle this figure was cut to roughly £670.
He paid the sum and was released from jail on the condition that he gave up his passport and remained in Nairobi.
Francis believes he has been caught up in a conspiracy borne out of infighting among company directors and claims senior government officials are also involved.
Before he was accused, he was in the process of doing due dilgence on the mining firm which he was considering investing in, but was later arrested along with his Australian business associate.
“Kenyan police and the justice system are manipulated by people with money and influence and they don’t necessarily pursue justice.
“The prison experience has made me cautious but I haven’t lost faith that justice will be done.
“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.” – Francis Strange speaking to The Star
Francis has revealed he plans to stay in Kenya and see through his plans if he is found innocent.