How Kenyan woman whose mum was sentenced to be hanged in China died at the Hilton hotel

A view of Hilton hotel's swimming pool. PHOTO | COURTESY
A view of Hilton hotel’s swimming pool. PHOTO | COURTESY

Fresh details have emerged on how a 27-year-old Kenyan, woman whose mother was sentenced to hang in China in 2009, drowned in a swimming pool at the Hilton Hotel on Thursday morning under mysterious circumstances.

The death of Zippora Adhiambo Omondi is a double tragedy for her family who were slowly but painfully coming to terms with the finality of the fate their mother, who is facing the hangman’s noose over 8,700km away, faces.

Police have arrested Ms Omondi’s boyfriend, who is a pilot with an international airline, and another woman who was with the couple.


Mr Ashraf Amin Fathy, a pilot with EgyptAir, said in his statement to the police that he had known Ms Omondi for the past one year and when he arrived in the country on Monday, he called and met her.

He spent most of his time with the deceased on Tuesday and Wednesday evening when they went to Havana Restaurant along Woodvale Groove in Westlands for dinner. While there, they were joined by Angela Mbita, a mutual friend.

Shortly after 4am on Thursday, they left the club for town. The CCTV at the hotel captured the three returning to the hotel while staggering before they proceeded to the man’s room on mezzanine 2, just adjacent to the swimming pool.

In the room, the three ate some pizza and drank some more whisky.

Shortly after, the deceased is seen getting out of the room, headed for the swimming pool before jumping into the water while still fully clothed.

From the footage, she appears to be a good swimmer and swims without any difficulty.


She got out of the water and went back to the room. This time round, she left stark naked and is immediately followed by the pilot and Ms Mbita who had also removed their clothes.

Mr Fathy and Ms Mbita move to one corner of the pool as the deceased is seen on the other end. The two became suspicious when they saw her motionless and moved to where she was. They carried her out of the water and tried to administer first aid. They however realize that she had died.

Nairobi County commander Japheth Koome said police officers went to the hotel after receiving the report.

“We established that the captain was her boyfriend and there was also another lady with them. Before arriving at the hotel they had been at two social places,” he police boss said.


“Our officers have examined the CCTV camera footage and it seems to support the captain’s account of events. So far there is no foul play suspected but we cannot rule out anything until the postmortem is performed,” Mr Koome said.

The postmortem was conducted Thursday evening at the Chiromo Funeral home but police did not release the findings.

The deceased’s mother, Christine Nyabera Ongowo, is one of the more than 20 women serving sentences in China for being in possession of drugs.

Ms Ongowo left Kenya for Dubai in December 2007 but the family was later informed that she was arrested in the City of Guangzhou, China, and sentenced to hang for being in possession of heroin.

Then Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula told Parliament that Kenya would be engaging the Chinese government in talks to have the two governments sign a protocol that would enable a prison exchange system and to plead with them to reduce death sentences to life imprisonment.


When she left, she left behind three daughters –the deceased who was then aged 18, Judy Wangari Ongowo, 30 and Sheila Atieno Omondi, 19 –under the care of her sister.

Ms Omondi, in an interview with the media in the year 2009, said that she escorted her mother to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on December 15, 2007 and she promised that she would be back on December 26.

She, however, did not come back and a week later, they were informed by their aunt that she had been arrested.

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