The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) has released a list of demands protesting the questionable election of John Chebochok as the Director of Toror Tea Factory managed by the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA).

In a statement on Wednesday, LSK noted that Chebochok’s election into the office is alarming since he has been linked to cases of sexual exploitation against female workers at a James Finlay Limited factory in Kericho.

He was secretly filmed in an exposé by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in 2023 titled ‘Sex for Work: The True Cost of Our Tea’ showing him preying on female workers at the factory in exchange for employment.

After heaping public outcry, KTDA disowned Chebochok’s appointment, noting that it had no role to play in awarding him the position and that the election process was conducted by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

LSK questioned why Chebochok was allowed to contest for the seat despite the grievous allegations, arguing that his new appointment undermines efforts to safeguard 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,” said LSK.

“Allowing Mr. Chebochok to assume a leadership role not only jeopardizes the welfare of female workers but also tarnishes the reputation of the Kenyan tea industry on the global stage.”

LSK therefore called for Chebochok’s immediate resignation, further wanting IEBC to review its vetting procedures to conform with the provisions of Chapter 6 of the Constitution to prevent persons with questionable characters from being elected to leadership positions.

It also wanted KTDA to implement robust policies to ensure the safety and protection of all workers from sexual harassment and exploitation.

Further, KTDA has been asked to be transparent on the steps being taken to address the concerns on Chebochok’s appointment and should hold accountable those who fail to uphold ethical standards.

James Finlay Limited and Lipton Teas and Infusions have called for the immediate removal of Chebochok from the position.

In a letter penned by Group Corporate Affairs Director Ben Woolf, the international tea supplier noted that although Chebochok was not formally charged for the alleged offenses, the undercover footage and the testimonies of survivors presented in the documentary cannot be disregarded.

“We are writing to request that you immediately remove John Chebochok from his position as Director of Toror Tea Factory, a KTDA factory,” said Finlays in the letter addressed to senior KTDA officials.

They have also since ceased purchasing tea from Toror Factory and urged other stakeholders to follow suit until Chebochok is removed as director.

Meanwhile, Chebochok has issued a demand letter to the BBC demanding a Ksh.100 million defamation settlement over their documentary.

Through his lawyer Danstan Omari, Chebochok pointed out that the claims were orchestrated by his competitors both in politics as well as the tea sector who allegedly sought to buy out Finlays from the factory.

“Politicians who are against our client’s political bid appeared to have been angered that he implemented mechanization at Finlay and as a result, some of their voters lost jobs and the said competitors fought the said process unsuccessfully,” read a letter in part.

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