, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 26 – At least 17 people were killed at Kibera slums in Nairobi on Monday after they consumed what was thought to be illicit brew laced with an unknown industrial chemical, police said.
Eight of them, including a young woman 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.
Those killed were reported to have been drinking moonshine laced with methanol at a popular drinking den in the slum for the better part of Sunday.
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.
Community workers at the Kibera Laini Saba of Soweto East Location were busy trying to locate missing persons on Monday afternoon, after word went round that more people, mainly young men who live alone may have died in their houses at night.
“So far, we have recovered eight bodies, these are people who failed to wake up from their houses and when we opened we found them dead,” one community worker who only identified himself as Elkana said.
This reporter accompanied the community workers to four of the houses located within a distance of about 200 meters where seven bodies were found.
One of them included that of a 24-year-old man and a 37-year-old woman who was identified only as Bretha.
“She went drinking last night in the company of her friends, we did not see her until at about midnight when I heard her passing outside my house, and this morning she did not wake up that is when we got curious,” a neighbour Christine Omolo said.
Official names of most victims were not immediately available because they were said to have been using nick-names.
Area chief Clement Ombati told Capital News that four other victims had died while being taken to hospital at about midday while two others died at the Kenyatta National Hospital.
“The situation here is pathetic, there are more than ten people who have been taken to hospital but their situation is not very good, we only hope for the best,” Mr Ombati said.
At least ten people were blinded after consuming the bootleg locally known as chang\’aa which police believe was laced with an industrial chemical police believe to be Methanol.
“We have submitted samples of these brew to the government chemist and we are waiting for the results, we are currently questioning one of the women picked up from the house where the brew was being sold,” Nairobi PPO Anthony Kibuchi said.
He said he was yet to establish the exact number of victims admitted to hospital.
There was tension in the slum early Monday after locals threatened to lynch brewers of the illicit alcohol which has claimed the lives of hundreds of people in the country.
Three months ago, 12 people died after consuming similar illicit brew in Nairobi’s Shauri Moyo estate where more than 20 other people were blinded.
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.