'Dead' Kiwi contacts family after being arrested in Kenya
Liz Simpson thought she received a hoax call when, after thirty years, she was contacted by a son she assumed was dead.
Instead, Francis Edward Strange, had in fact been in custody in Kenya accused of stealing millions of dollars from a mining company in Kenya.
The 56-year-old spent six months in a Kenyan prison last year, after failing to provide the $15,000 needed for bail.
Waihi farmer Gerard Strange said the family assumed he was dead, until his brother contacted their mother a fortnight ago.
At first he thought it was a scam, but after a bit of discussion it turned out it was "kosher".
"Well the last name says it all really. It's all a bit strange to us, bizarre actually," he said.
"But it was definitely great to hear his voice.
"We don't know all the background about why he hasn't made contact for so long and we're not here to judge. He's family and we're glad to hear from him."
According to Kenyan paper The Star, Strange was to appear in court in Kenya on Tuesday (New Zealand time), accused of stealing $63 million of gold and equipment from a mining company in Narok County.
He is now living in Nairobi and has had to surrender his passport as part of his bail conditions.
Gerard Strange said he was not sure of all the details regarding his brother's court appearance but he has received documents from URI, an investment company his brother was involved with.
"It seems to me like he was caught up in something that was not his doing," he said.
Strange told The Star the trouble started as he was doing due diligence on a mining company in which he considered investing.
"Kenyan police and the justice system are manipulated by people with money and influence and they don't necessarily pursue justice," he said in an interview.
"The prison experience has made me cautious but I haven't lost faith that justice will be done."
He also claimed a murderer twice tried to kill him at the Kisii Prison where he was held.
The convicted murderer known as 'Msanii', jumped him and tried to rip out his throat, Strange said.
Originally from Paeroa, in Waikato, Strange emigrated from Ponsonby to Australia in 1981.
The last contact his family had was in 1990, when he was living in Sydney. He moved to Tokyo in 1992.
If he wins his court battle, Strange plans to stay in Kenya and plough ahead with plans to develop a mine extracting minerals.
His vision is for a massive mining and industrial city in Taita-Taveta County, in the southern tip of Kenya. It could generate between 300,000 and 500,000 jobs during its construction over the next decade, Strange says.
In January 2014, Strange moved from Japan, where he was a teacher and union boss at an English language school, for a promising business venture in Kenya's mining industry. He has also published a book for English-language students and conducted research on the international cement industry and rebuilding Japan's power network, according to The Star.