Killer brews: Anne Waiguru orders closure of all bars in Kirinyaga County

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua with Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru, Kirinyaga Women Rep Jane Njeri, Mbuuri MP Mugambi Lindikiri and other leaders at Kangai Primary School during the funeral service of 17 people who died after consuming illicit brew in Kirinyaga County.

Photo credit: DPCS

What you need to know:

  • Governor Waiguru lamented that there were more bars than schools and churches in the region.
  •  She has vowed to ensure that all bars are vetted to prevent illicit brew-related deaths in the region.

Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru on Saturday ordered the closure of all bars in the county after 17 people died after consuming toxic brew in the region. She said there would be a fresh vetting and inspection of all bars.

"We have withdrawn the licences of all bar owners with immediate effect and they are all stand closed," she said at Kangai Primary School in Mwea West Sub-County during the funeral service for those who died from the killer brew.

 "We will start a fresh review and if you have a history or have been taken to court for operating without a licence or selling illegal, harmful drinks, we will not give you a fresh licence," she announced.

 She has vowed to ensure that all bars are vetted to prevent illicit brew-related deaths in the region.

 She lamented that there were more bars than schools and churches in the region.

"We can't allow a few greedy traders to continue destroying the lives of our people by selling poisonous alcoholic drinks," she said.

She urged county officials who run bars to shun the beer business.

"I know senior county officials who own bars, they should stop this business or be fired," she said.

Her directive comes barely a day after Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki announced that the death toll from the Kirinyaga toxic brew incident had risen to 17 and ordered a nationwide crackdown on all illegal second-generation liquor.

He declared all-out war on the liquor and ordered the new senior administration and security officials to implement his directive with immediate effect.

Prof Kindiki revealed that the government had come up with a programme to rid the country of illicit brews.   

"This incident has made the issue of alcoholic drinks and narcotic drugs even more urgent than before, we have already assessed and identified the sale and consumption of poisonous drinks and drugs as a security threat," he said.

Mr Kindiki emphasised that the threat posed by alcoholic drinks and narcotic drugs was at the same level as terrorism and banditry and required urgent attention.

"From today, the government will embark on a nationwide operation, no area in our country where our people have been affected by the consumption of dangerous drinks and drugs will be left out," he said.

He directed all security and intelligence teams across the country to come up with a roadmap to enable them to carry out an operation to save the lives of Kenyans before another incident like the one in Kangai village happens again.

He said the owner of the bar where the toxic brew was sold was in custody and would face capital charges to serve as a warning to other would-be offenders.

"The seller is a notorious offender who has been arrested 16 times and released on lenient bond terms, we have obtained custodial orders to keep him in cells to complete our investigations," he said.

The government intends to charge him with the most serious crimes under the country's statutes.

"The murder of so many people is no small matter, so we are not looking at routine charges of operating bars without a licence, we are looking at proper charges with a watertight case, we want to make sure that this man will never know freedom again," he said.

He continued: "I don't see any difference between what this man has done and what bandits and Alshaabab have done in other parts of the country.

At the same time, Prof Kindiki reiterated that all senior administrators have been recalled and new ones posted to Kirinyaga to pave the way for investigations.

He warned that officers found to have contributed to the deaths of people in Kirinyaga would be sacked and charged to court.

" We will not transfer those who are found culpable, we will sack them and charge them to court," he said.

Prof Kindiki said the government was determined to ensure that no more people die from consuming illicit alcoholic drinks in Kirinyaga and other parts of the country.

He said the government will have a permanent operation to get rid of the toxic brews.