Leadership wrangles at the Kiru Tea Factory in Murang’a County have resulted to the arrest of 19 security guards.
The guards were Tuesday charged at the Kangema Law Courts with trespass, creating disturbance and giving false information to a public servant.
They are employees of Trackman Security Services Company and had been hired by a faction led by Mr Chege Kirundi, who claims he is the bona fide chairman of the troubled tea factory.
The guards had gone to “take over” from others from Cobra Security Company after the Kirundi-led faction claimed the factory’s contract with Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) had expired and had not been renewed.
Mr Kirundi claimed that after the expiry of the 10-year contract between the factory and KTDA on June 30, the board decided to take charge in running the affairs of the factory, a move that led to the hiring of new guards.
“The contract between Kiru Te Factory and KTDA lapsed on the night of June 30 after the agency failed to negotiate with the board for a review in accordance to the demands of the board and that’s how the board decided to take charge,” Mr Kirundi said.
But the other faction led by Mr Stephen Githiga, who also claims to be the bona fide chairman of the factory, alleged that the contract was renewed on February 2, 2018 with an effective date of July 1, 2019.
“There is a procedure when the contract ought to be signed to ensure there is no vacuum in the management of the factory and the contract has been duly renewed,” he said.
The two factions met the Murang’a County commissioner on Monday with each separately seeking to inform the security committee that they were in charge of the tea factory.
Mr Kirundi and Mr Githiga have been embroiled in vicious court battles with each trying to secure the leadership of the factory.
In April, Mr Githiga and five other KTDA directors were fined Sh400,000 each for disobeying a court order that restrained them from interfering with the management of Kiru Tea Factory.
Managing Director Lerionka Tiampati, Francis Macharia, Company Secretary John Omanga and Peter Kinyua risked seven months in civil jail in default.
The guards, who have now found themselves at the centre of the leadership wrangles, contested the idea of charging them in court, claiming that there was no complainant in the matter.
But Principal Magistrate PN Kiama dismissed their request and ruled that they should take plea and later file a petition in the High Court stopping the lower court from prosecuting them.
They pleaded not guilty and were released on Sh20,000 each cash bail each.
The matter will be mentioned on July 27 while hearing has been scheduled for August 20.