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30 Jun 2024

The Standard, Nairobi

Kenya: Alleged perpetrator of sexual harassment of tea workers elected director of factory; govt' agency comments

John Chebochok, an alleged perpetrator of sexual exploitation, abuse, and harassment, has been elected as Director of the Toror Tea Factory (Ainamoi zone) managed by the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA).

John Chebochok, the man implicated in a sex for-work scandal by a report prepared by the BBC, is among those elected as directors of smallholder tea factories.

In the election conducted by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), Chebochok garnered 396 votes, beating his closest challenger, Stephen Tonui, who received 359 votes, and Simeon Serem, who got 286 votes. The Toror Tea Factory directorship seat had attracted a total of eight candidates. Chebochok remained on the ballot despite the BBC expose. Though he was mentioned adversely he was never charged in a court of law after his alleged victims failed to come forward.

He was previously a contractor at James Finlays (now Browns Investment Plc) and was sacked by the multinational tea firm in 2023 after the expose. Chebochok’s unprecedented win came even after the Kenya Tea Board (KTB) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Willy Mutai wrote a letter to IEBC CEO Hussein Marjan on June 24, highlighting the potential negative repercussions this could have on the global market for Kenyan tea.

Mutai noted that the Articles of Association of Tegat Tea Factory Company Limited, under which Toror Tea Factory falls, stipulate that no person shall be qualified to hold the office of a director unless, among other things, the individual is of good standing in society.

Part of the following timelines

Kenya: Alleged perpetrator of sexual violence against female tea workers elected to factory's leadership despite protests from lobby groups

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Kenya: NGOs, Lipton Teas and Infusions & Finlays oppose nomination of alleged sex offender as director of tea factory