Police impound suspected toxic sugar in Siaya


Police in Siaya sub-county are investigating a case of suspected toxic sugar found in a wholesale market last week.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Police in Siaya sub-county are investigating a case of suspected toxic sugar found in a wholesale market last week.

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), together with health officials, collected the sugar samples from the wholesaler's shelves after a consumer raised the alarm.

"The matter is being investigated by the DCI. We still don't have any concrete information on how the sugar ended up in Siaya or who the suppliers are," Mr Benedict Mwangangi, the Siaya sub-county police commander told the Nation by phone.

The samples collected will be tested and the results will be sent to the DCI for further action.

A consumer from Siaya told the Nation that the sugar, retailing at Sh205, had some strange contents that prompted him to alert the DCI and public health officials.

"I went to buy sugar as usual. Because of the high cost of living, I chose the cheapest one, which retailed at Sh205 for 1kg, and then went home where the sugar would be used," said the consumer, who requested anonymity.

Strangely, when the sugar was mixed with hot water, it turned the water dark.

"When mixed with water, instead of the normal brownish colour you would expect, the water turns dark like instant coffee. Very few people will notice this because on many occasions we add beverages before we add sugar. I just happened to add the sugar before the beverage," he explained.

The suspect sugar also tastes different from normal.

"When you taste the solution of the contaminated sugar, it corrodes the oesophagus as it goes down to the stomach. The effect is persistent and you have to cough to relieve the corrosive effect," he added.

Authorities are also investigating whether the same sugar has reached small retailers who buy from wholesalers in Siaya town.

The incident comes at a time when various government agencies are struggling to establish how some 20,000 bags of condemned sugar were released into the market.

The bags had been detained since 2018, and were found to be unfit for human consumption.

Last week, former Kenya Bureau of Standards boss Benard Njiraini and seven others appeared in court to answer charges over the disappearance and illegal sale of the condemned sugar worth Sh20 million.

They were released on Sh400,000 cash bail.

The director of Assets and Cargo Ltd, Mr Chrispus Waithaka, was also arrested at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on arrival from Dubai for allegedly masterminding the theft of condemned sugar.

He was one of the people who witnessed the breaking of customs seals on the 40 containers of the toxic sugar.