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Judge probing Tana chaos held hostage

Thursday January 24 2013

The chairperson of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Tana Delta Clashes Lady Justice Grace Nzioka (right) addresses a news conference in Mombasa December 4, 2012. The judge was ambushed as she drove into her Hardy home, Nairobi January 24, 2013. FILE

The chairperson of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Tana Delta Clashes Lady Justice Grace Nzioka (right) addresses a news conference in Mombasa December 4, 2012. The judge was ambushed as she drove into her Hardy home, Nairobi January 24, 2013. FILE 

By FRED MUKINDA [email protected] AND ZADOCK ANGIRA [email protected]

Masked gunmen raided the Nairobi home of High Court judge Grace Nzioka, who is leading investigations into Tana Delta killings, and held her hostage for six hours.

At gunpoint, the assailants drove with the judge and her husband Jeremy through rough roads around the city and withdrew money from their bank accounts using ATM cards on Wednesday night.

At the home, the gang harassed her children and took away mobile phones, a TV set, a laptop and assorted electronic gadgets.

The judge lives in the affluent Karen suburb, off Nzohe Road, and homes around are secured by high perimeter walls under the watch of private security companies.

Police said there was, however, no watchman at her home.

Lady Justice Nzioka had been accompanied to her home by a police bodyguard, Corporal Denis Omangi, and her official driver Stephen Kimani when the gangsters struck at around 9.30pm on Wednesday.

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The gang accosted her, together with the policeman and the driver, soon after she stepped out of the car and led them to the house.

The gangsters forced them to lie on the floor while they ransacked the house.

Administration Police spokesman Masoud Mwinyi said the judge’s bodyguard was not armed as “he was not there in an official capacity since he had signed off duty”.

“He only decided to accompany the driver so that they could go home together after dropping Lady Justice Nzioka,” added Mr Mwinyi.

Lang’ata Criminal Investigations Department boss James Manuli said: “They had stayed there for about 30 minutes when the husband arrived. He, too, was forced to lie on the floor.”

Lady Justice Nzioka said when she and her husband were driven to withdraw cash from ATMs, two of the gangsters remained at the house holding the children, her driver and the bodyguard.

The judge and her husband were abandoned on a lonely road at 2.30am.

The judge described the incident as an ordinary robbery and not related to the report she was compiling on the Tana violence, where more than 100 people, including police officers, were killed in four months.

“I want to assure the country that the report is safe,” she said.

An hour earlier, businessman Gagan Deep Singh was carjacked at the gate of his residence by three men armed with AK-47 rifles on Kaptagat Road in Loresho.

Mr Singh had left his home with his wife to go and fuel their car when they were attacked.