What you need to know:
- Ms Nancy Mibei said she paid Sh800,000 in 2017 to travel to Australia to study, but more than six years later, she is yet to realise her dream.
Ms Viola Cherotich from Trans Nzoia County paid Sh40,000 for the registration and medical examination after her parents sold their only cow.
Emotions ran high during a Senate committee hearing as victims of First Choice Recruitment and Consulting Agency narrated how they lost millions of shillings in an overseas job deal that never materialised.
The victims, who were drawn from Trans Nzoia, Nakuru, Uasin Gishu and Elgeyo Marakwet counties, claimed they were promised lucrative job opportunities in Qatar during the World Cup.
Appearing before the Senate Committee on Labour on Wednesday, the youths detailed how they were subjected to fake medical tests, issued with fake receipts and made to wait in vain to travel to Qatar.
With the promise of high-paying jobs evaporating, the victims described to the MPs how their search for refunds had left them with bounced cheques, harassment and intimidation, and being jailed on trumped-up charges.
Others have had to cope with broken families, lost property and illness because of the agency's unwillingness to refund the money paid to them, which was only accepted in cash to cover any paper trail.
Keiyo South MP Gideon Kimaiyo said he was also a victim of Ms Judy Jepchirchir's agency as he paid money for some of his relatives. However, his money was refunded after the relatives failed to make it to Qatar.
He accused Ms Jepchirchir of running a pyramid scheme with the protection of politicians and government officials.
Ms Nancy Mibei said she paid Sh800,000 in 2017 to travel to Australia to study, but more than six years later, she is yet to realise her dream.
Ms Viola Cherotich from Trans Nzoia County was in tears as she recounted how she was forced to undergo a medical examination where she had to undress in front of a man for an X-ray.
She had paid Sh40,000 for the registration and medical examination after her parents sold their only cow. She also paid another Sh400 for the agency to write her CV. Ms Cherotich said she had the money in her phone, but was told to withdraw it from an M-Pesa dealer at the office and pay in cash.
"In return, I was given a receipt with no stamp or any form of identification linking it to First Choice," she said. She added that the Sh40,000 included a non-refundable medical examination fee of Sh10,000.
"My blood sample was taken at a laboratory behind Zion Mall in Eldoret. We were then taken to another place for X-rays where we were not allowed to wear tops and women had to remove their bras. Even after all that, we did not get any results," she said.
Alfred Mongare Gekara from Nakuru also went through the same ordeal as he recounted how he got the Sh40,000 from his cousin and paid in two instalments. The first was on June 7, 2022 when he paid Sh15,000 at the agency's office at Pioneer House along Moi Avenue in Nairobi and another Sh25,000 on June 20, 2022. The receipt he was given, which he presented to the committee, had no stamp on it.
Another victim, Lawrence Nzuki, said his name had been listed among those who had been refunded Sh400,000, but he had paid Sh437,000 and had yet to receive a shilling.
Eldoret-based human rights activist Mr Kimutai Kirui, who is the lead petitioner for the victims, said they have so far verified 1,024 victims of First Choice and are in the process of verifying reports of another 1,000.
Ms Jepchirchir and her lawyer, Mr. Henry Kenei, were thrown out of the committee hearing after the lawyer refused to apologise for writing a letter to the committee accusing it of being biased and siding with the petitioners and making derogatory remarks about his client.
Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei called for the disbandment of the National Employment Authority for allowing First Choice to continue operating despite having an expired licence.
Nominated senator Miraj Abdillahi said: "We need justice for these families. There is nothing like a deep State".
Embu Senator Alexander Mundigi added: "Let her tell us when she will return the money so that we can include it in our report so that action can be taken against her if she fails to do so."