Kenya bootleg deaths top 19

July 27, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 27 – The death toll from the poisonous illicit brew in Nairobi\’s Kibera slum rose to 19 on Tuesday, after two more people succumbed to the effect of the lethal liquor.

One of them died at the Mbagathi Hospital while another was found dead in his house at the Soweto area, police said.

"There are two more people who died this morning, but most of those who were admitted to hospital have been discharged," Nairobi Provincial Police chief Anthony Kibuchi said.

Officials at the City mortuary confirmed there were 19 bodies preserved there from the slum.

"We have 19 bodies here, seventeen were brought in between Sunday night and yesterday [Monday] while two were brought here this [Tuesday] morning," a mortuary attendant said.

The cause of their death at the mortuary was booked as \’sudden death\’.

"Most of the bodies were brought here by the police while others were brought by relatives after they died in hospitals but they all indicated to us that it was a result of chang\’aa in Kibera.  That is why it is booked as sudden death," the official said.

He said relatives had been allowed to collect the bodies for burial, but none of them had showed up. "None of the bodies have been claimed, but we know they will come for them may be from tomorrow."

Police said tests conducted on samples of the lethal brew had indicated it contained Methanol, a colourless volatile poisonous water-soluble liquid which is mainly used as a solvent, fuel or in antifreeze for motor vehicles.

Eight of the people, including a young woman who consumed the moonshine on Sunday night were found dead in their houses on Monday morning, while bodies of three others were discovered in footpaths later on Monday. Four others died on arrival at the Kenyatta National Hospital.

A 21-year-old man and another one aged 55 were reported to have died on their way to hospital after they complained of stomach-related complications.

Those who died were reported to have been drinking the methanol-laced drink at a popular drinking den in the slum for the better part of Sunday.

Most of the bodies were discovered by community workers or neighbours.

On Tuesday, the Nairobi Provincial Police chief told Capital News that 24 suspects picked up from drinking dens at the slum – including where the deaths occurred – were being held at the Kilimani police station.

"We arrested 24 suspects and they are being questioned by our officers, they will definitely face charges in court," Mr Kibuchi said but he did not elaborate that accusations they were likely to face.

Cases of people dying after consuming the bootleg popularly known as Chang\’aa are common in Kenya.

Three months ago, 12 people died after consuming illicit brew in Nairobi\’s Shauri Moyo estate where more than 20 other people were left blind.

And in June 2005, 49 people died in Machakos after they consumed illicit home-made brew suspected to have been laced with a poisonous substance.

Dozens others were reported to have lost sight at the time.


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