46 arrested after hundreds invade Finlays tea estate

A signage at James Finlay Tea estates in Kericho in this photo taken on March 10, 2023. 

Photo credit: File I Nation Media Group

A total of 46 suspects have been arrested in connection with an incident that saw more than 200 youths invade a James Finlay tea estate in Bomet, vandalise the crops and torch a police vehicle.

Six police officers were seriously injured and admitted to hospital following the incident that occurred at Chemasingi estate in Konoin constituency.

One person also drowned at Itare river as he escaped arrest while a secondary school student was shot by police in the Sunday evening incident.

A police report which the Nation has seen showed that the suspects rounded up in the area had been taken to Bomet police station for interrogation ahead of their being taken to court.

The youths were arrested at Kolongei area and Kapkilaibei shopping centre in connection with the burning down of the police vehicle registration GKB 980T, a Toyota Landruiser.

"A total of 46 suspects were arrested and placed in custody at Konoin police station awaiting to be arraigned in court" The police report stated. The suspects have since been moved to Bomet police station.e

A combined force of regular police and their counterparts from the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) drawn from Konoin, Sotik and Bomet Central sun-counties took part in the operation on Thursday morning.

More than 200 youths are said to have attacked 14 police officers who were on patrol in the estate, where they (youths) were illegally harvesting green tea leaves.

A youth is also admitted in hospital after a bullet ripped through his abdomen and exited through the back, narrowly missing the internal organs during the stand off. 

“Two of the six police officers who sustained injuries are in a bad state. They were rushed to Chebitet Health centre and Central hospital owned by Ekattera tea company before being transferred to Kericho County Referral hospital for specialized treatment,” Mr Mathews Mangira, the Bomet County Police Commander said at the time.

The victims are admitted at Kericho County Referral Hospital where they are undergoing treatment.

Mr Mangira said the youths were armed with crude weapons including stones, slingshots, pangas, catapults, and wooden sticks, which forced the police officers to fire in the air and lob teargas canisters at them.

“The police vehicle was vandalised with two wheels and a battery stolen by the rowdy youths who torched it (vehicle) afterwards,” Mr Mangira said.

Police officers from Kericho and Bomet counties were on Monday morning mobilized to patrol the area and hunt down the attackers who are said to be known, but no arrests had been made by press time.

James Finlays Kenya has been involved in a dispute with local community over 100 percent mechanization in its tea estates in what has led to job losses.

Youths have for the late one year been invading James Finlay and Ekaterra Tea estates in Kericho and Bomet counties to illegally pluck green leaves which they sell to brokers who supply private factories and those managed by the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA).