Family demands answers after boy killed by tea-plucking machine in Kericho

The nine-year-old boy died of excessive bleeding. [iStockphoto]

Emmanuel Kipkurui, a nine-year-old boy who was killed by a self-propelled tea-plucking machine at Cheptabes tea estate in Kericho County, died of excessive bleeding.

This is according to an autopsy conducted at Kapkatet Hospital Mortuary on Tuesday, January 24, 2023.

Kipkurui, said pathologist Richard Kakili, died due to severe injury to the head, which damaged his skull - exposing brain matter.

"Part of his left side was cut into pieces, which resulted in his death due to excessive bleeding," said Dr Kakili.

Members of the family and local leaders who witnessed the autopsy demanded answers and called on the management of Cheptabes tea estate to reinforce its safety programmes.

Speaking on behalf of the family, Chepchabas MCA Wesly Kiprotich said safety measures at factories in the region must be improved in the face of the introduction of tea-plucking machines.

"We want all employees and their families to feel safe in the tea estates. If those safety measures were in place, Kipkurui would be alive today. The management must take this seriously," the civic leader said.

According to initial police reports, the boy was curious as to how the machines worked and reportedly hid under the tea bushes where the machine was passing through so as to have a glimpse of its blades.

His head was chopped off in the process.

"A supervisor on duty noticed that there were clothes around the blades and after conducting a check, discovered that it was part of the boy's torso," read the police report in part.

After the January 18 incident, James Finlay Company issued a statement regretting the accident, saying the company will support the family, wider community and staff.

The company said they were working closely with the investigating authorities, and that it had reviewed the operation of the self-propelled tea harvesters in their company and had launched investigations to establish how the accident happened.

The family is demanding compensation for the loss of life.