Toxicology test shows ingested TB drugs led to Briton's death blamed on the 'devil'

Lutfunisa Khandwalla

Lutfunisa Khandwalla, 44, died on August 2, 2020, and was buried the same day at the Memon cemetery, Mombasa.

Photo credit: Courtesy

Lutfunisa Khandwalla, a British woman who died in Mombasa under mysterious circumstances while visiting a spiritual leader, was taking TB medication despite not having contracted the disease. 

A medical examination of her remains, which included brain tissue, revealed a positive result for ethambutol, a drug used by tuberculosis patients. 

“There was an indication of ethambutol in the brain tissue, but this drug does not appear to be present in the liver,” a report from Bio Analytics UK indicates. 

The report goes on to say that ethambutol is not a drug that is regularly detected in the UK. 

“This may be because the incidence of TB in the UK is low. We have not previously detected ethambutol in tissues, just blood and urine,” the report shared with the family adds. 
The samples were taken to the laboratory last year after Khandwalla’s remains were exhumed from Mombasa’s Memon Cemetery last October for toxicology to ascertain what killed her. 

When the samples arrived at the UK laboratory, the report indicates that they were examined visually, with most of the samples described as desiccated and fibrous, paper- or parchment-like.

The report further indicates that brain and liver tissues were visually tissue-like and were processed for analysis. 

“Diazepam was detected in both samples. The levels were not high, and in my opinion not above what would be expected from therapeutic use,” the report said. 

It further indicates that a diazepam metabolite, namely nordiazepam, was detected in either sample, implying acute use of diazepam recently before death. 

“Acute use of diazepam can cause sedation, which lessens as tolerance arises with regular use,” the report indicates. 

According to the deceased’s brother, Mr Imran Admani, his sister was forced to ingest those drugs as she was being indoctrinated and recruited into a cult in Mombasa during her short holiday in 2019. 

“These findings already show indication towards foul play as my sister did not suffer from TB disease. I feel that this was an attempt to kill her by trying to overdose her. When this did not work, those behind all these moved onto something stronger,” Mr Admani said while reacting to the preliminary report.

He is, however, confident that the truth of what killed his sister, and those behind it, will be known once the medical procedure, including the antifreeze test, is finalised. 

The 44-year-old died on August 2, 2020, and was buried the same day, before a medical test to establish the cause of death was conducted. 

The family has alleged that she was forced to ingest a chemical used for freezing by a spiritual leader, who had lied to her that it will cure her ailments, after which she died.

Her body was exhumed after her brother obtained a court order from the Mombasa court following the claims of foul play. 

During the exhumation proceedings, documents tabled in court indicated that the deceased had been killed by the devil, prompting her brother to opt for a medical procedure to settle the matter. 

The deceased had visited her husband in Mombasa when the incident happened. It was while on this visit that it was alleged the devil had killed her as a spiritual leader tried to help her. 

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations has already recorded statements from at least 14 witnesses regarding the incident leading to the death. 

A post-mortem report released last year to the family by Government Pathologist Johansen Oduor failed to disclose what killed her.

However, the preliminary findings indicated that the deceased’s brain was found intact two years after she was buried. 

The report showed that the brain was shrunken and found inside the opened skull while intact. 

“..cause of death unascertained pending histology, toxicology and DNA,” Dr Oduor concluded.
Samples taken from the soil inside the grave, including remnants of the kidney, urinary bladder and intestine had been taken for toxicology. 

The medical procedure also found no fracture on the skull and scalp, but most of the soft tissues and muscles had decomposed and could hardly be identified. 

The report revealed areas of fracture on the hyoid bone (small U-shaped bone at the front of the neck) and thyroid cartilage, which were retained for histological analysis in order to establish if the fracture was before or after death. 

The shaft of the femur bone (mid shaft ) and meniscus cartilage (between the shin bone and thigh bone) were also taken for DNA analysis while the hyoid bone, thyroid cartilage and brain will undergo histology analysis.