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Law Society of Kenya Demands Resignation of Controversial Tea Factory Director

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) voiced strong objections to the election of John Chebochok as the Director of Toror Tea Factory, managed by the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA). The LSK’s outcry follows Chebochok’s alleged involvement in cases of sexual exploitation against female workers at a James Finlay Limited factory in Kericho, which were highlighted in a 2023 British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) exposé titled “Sex for Work: The True Cost of Our Tea.”


Chebochok was caught on hidden camera in the BBC documentary, engaging in predatory behavior towards female workers in exchange for employment opportunities. Despite the uproar that followed the documentary, KTDA has distanced itself from Chebochok’s appointment, asserting that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) was responsible for the election process, not the agency itself.

The LSK has raised serious concerns about how Chebochok was permitted to contest for the position amid such serious allegations, arguing that his election undermines the integrity of women’s rights within the tea industry.

“It sends a troubling message that individuals with allegations of sexual misconduct can still attain positions of power, thereby potentially perpetuating a culture of impunity and fear among women workers,” the LSK’s statement read.

The society has demanded Chebochok’s immediate resignation and called for the IEBC to review its vetting procedures in accordance with Chapter 6 of the Constitution to prevent individuals with questionable reputations from ascending to leadership roles.

Furthermore, the LSK has urged KTDA to implement comprehensive policies to safeguard all workers from sexual harassment and exploitation and to be transparent about the measures being taken to address the concerns surrounding Chebochok’s appointment. The LSK insists that KTDA must hold accountable those who fail to uphold ethical standards within the industry.

James Finlay Limited and Lipton Teas and Infusions have joined the call for Chebochok’s removal. In a letter from Group Corporate Affairs Director Ben Woolf, the international tea supplier emphasized that, although Chebochok has not been formally charged, the undercover footage and survivor testimonies in the documentary are significant.

“We are writing to request that you immediately remove John Chebochok from his position as Director of Toror Tea Factory, a KTDA factory,” stated Finlays in the letter to KTDA officials. In response to the controversy, Finlays has ceased purchasing tea from the Toror Factory and encouraged other stakeholders to follow suit until Chebochok is removed from his directorial position.

Amid these calls for his resignation, Chebochok has issued a demand letter to the BBC, seeking Ksh.100 million in a defamation settlement over their documentary. Represented by lawyer Danstan Omari, Chebochok claims that the allegations were a result of orchestrated efforts by his competitors in both politics and the tea industry. He suggests that his political opponents were upset with his mechanization efforts at Finlay, which led to job losses for some of their voters, and consequently, they sought to discredit him.


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