A Chinese national and a Kenyan trader were on Friday fined Sh1.4 million or spend two years in jail for engaging in illegal tea processing and packaging business in Kiawara, Nyeri County.
The two, He Zhifhang and Mary Wanjiku Ndung’u were convicted by Nyeri Chief Magistrate Wendy Kagendo after they pleaded guilty.
They admitted that on September 14, 2018, they engaged in the business of processing and repackaging tea at a construction site, China Machinery Engineering Company site, without government’s authority.
Mr Zhifhang is a civil engineer at the company that is constructing Kiawara-Nairutia road.
The court heard that the two were arrested after police stormed the site following a tip off by members of the public.
State Counsel Ms Kitoto told the court that they were found packaging tea leaves in several packets. Police also found one sealing machine, three weighing machines, 120 packets of packed tea and tea bags in a plastic bag.
The accused persons faced eight charges involving dealing with tea leaves without registration from the Kenya Tea Board, engaging in business without valid work permit and failing to produce business license on demand by police.
They also faced charges of operating the factory without valid medical certificate and a food hygiene licence from the government.
Further, the court heard that they also failed to take prevention measures to avoid contamination of the tea leaves as required in the Health Act.
Mr Zhifhang faced a spate count of engaging in activities other than that approved in the licence.
In mitigation, their lawyer Charles King’ori asked for leniency saying they are remorseful.
“They are remorseful and wants leniency. The tea was for own consumption and want lenient sentence,” said the lawyer.
The court also ordered that the tea leaves and the machines used to dry, mill, pack, seal and weigh the commodity be disposed of to the State for destruction.