A court has fined six senior directors of the Kenya Tea Development Agency Sh400,000 each for contempt for holding elections in 2017 despite an order against this.
Court of Appeal judges William Ouko, Fatuma Sichale and Otieno Odek issued the ruling on Thursday, against people including KTDA Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director Lerionka Tiampati.
The others are Stephen Maina Githiga, Eston Gakunju, Peter Kinyua, Francis Macharia and John Kennedy Omanga (Company Secretary).
All the six were found guilty of the offence for interfering with the leadership and management of the 8,000-member Kiru Tea Factory in Murang’a County.
The court earlier absolved eight directors saying it found nothing to suggest they violated the order issued on December 6, 2017.
While sentencing the six, the judges noted it is important to obey court orders for the sake of justice, fairness and preserving the integrity of the court.
The court gave the directors seven days to pay the amount, failure of which they will serve seven months in jail.
This was after their lawyer Waweru Gatonye said they were not flight risks.
Senior Counsel Paul Muite told the court that they should pay the fine from “their pockets and not from farmers”.
The directors will appear in court on April 4 for mitigation and sentencing.
The tea factory has been plagued by incessant fights, with a group led by Vice-chairman John Ngari Kariri, Auditor Christopher Mwangi and Mr Chege Kirundi another of trying to paralyse operations at the behest of powerful individuals seeking to control the tea sector in the region.
The three accused the directors of orchestrating the removal of Mr Kirundi and Company Secretary Bernard Kiragu Kimani on November 27, 2017, against express court orders.
Dr Omanga was reportedly removed on September 11, 2017 and replaced by Mr Kimani.
Dr Omanga was accused of convening an illegal annual general meeting as he had ceased being the company secretary. He said, however, that he was still the secretary and that he was therefore empowered to convene the AGM.
The Court of Appeal had observed that KTDA-HC and KTDA-MS appeared intent on the nomination of Dr Omanga as Mr Kimani's replacement and that the rivalry was likely to cause considerable harm to the farming community.
Mr Kirundi and his allies obtained an injunction blocking KTDA Holdings Limited (KTDA-HL) and KTDA Management Services Ltd (KTDA-MS) from interfering with the leadership of the factory.