Kirinyaga illicit brew deaths
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Kirinyaga Illicit Brew deaths: Those we lost

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A photo collage of some of the people who died after drinking toxic brew in Kangai village, Kirinyaga County. From top left: Stella Muthoni, Beatrice Wanjiru Gakono, Franklin Gitandu, Peter Mwai, and Alice Wanjiru. Bottom from left: Paul Wachira, John Mureithi, Josephine Wakuthii Ndama, John Njoroge, and Francis Muiruri.

Photo credit: | Nation Media Group

A cloud of sorrow hang over the sprawling Kangai village in Kirinyaga County as 15 families tried to come to terms with the death of their relatives who died after consuming a toxic brew last week.

They wore sad faces as they gathered at Kangai Primary School for an interdenominational prayer service organised by the Deputy President’s wife, Dorcas Rigathi.

Tears flowed as the relatives recounted memories of their loved ones, never to be seen again, thanks to the illicit brew that saw tens of others turn blind, but luckily regaining sight after.

“I have lost my husband, Peter Mwai and now I’m a widow. What has happened has left me miserable,” said Ms Agnes Wanjiku as she sobbed.

The families said they had been dealt a big blow, adding that they are mourning the deaths of their loved ones, some of whom perished at home after taking the brew.

Angry Kirinyaga residents torch bar as illicit brew death toll rises to 10

Beatrice Wanjiku,an elderly woman, was among those who lost their lives.

“Wanjiku had joined other revellers in a local bar to drink but sadly she lost her life shortly after the drinking spree,” said Mr Gerald Waweru, the son to the deceased.

The families said they were making funeral arrangements and pleaded with the government to help them give their relatives a decent send off.

Mrs Rigathi condemned the incident, describing it as a tragedy which would have been avoided if the police, government administrators and the Judiciary performed their duties competently.

Mrs Rigathi said it was sad that 23 people had died after drinking illicit brew, adding that everyone should be involved in the fight against unlawful alcoholic drinks to avoid such deaths.

“I’m in deep sorrow over the deaths occasioned by poisonous brew and I want to convey my sincere condolences to the bereaved families,” she said.

Mrs Rigathi lamented that men, the seed carriers, were the most affected. She vowed that she will not get tired of fighting for the boy child.

“I know it is a hard task fighting for the boy child but I will win this battle,” she said.

Mrs Rigathi said the government was taking the matter seriously and all those who contributed to the deaths of the residents will not be spared.

Killer brew

Some of the victims who lost their sights after consuming illicit brew in Kangai village, Kirinyaga County.

Photo credit: Courtesy

“The government is taking stern action and we want to ensure that no one else will die because of drinking illicit brews again in this region. We are also seeking divine intervention over such deaths,” she said.

Mrs Rigathi swore to ensure that toxic brews are not sold again in the area and other parts of Mount Kenya region.

“I’m not going to keep quiet as brews continue wiping out a generation,” she said.

She said the survivors will be taken to rehabilitation centres.

Mrs Rigathi urged parents and religious leaders to be in the forefront in discouraging the consumption of lethal brews.

Mwea Member of Parliament Mary Maingi said the incident sent shockwaves across the constituency and asked the government to get to the bottom of matter.

“We have lost so many people and we have been thrown into mourning,” she said.

The revellers are reported to have gone to a local bar on Monday night and ordered for the drink.

They enjoyed their drink as they chatted. They are said to have taken as much as possible and left for their respective homes.

However, the victims started complaining of stomach pains and vomiting on the wee hours of Tuesday.

Some of the victims died in the afternoon at home while others lost their lives on arrival at Kerugoya Teaching and Referral Hospital where they had been rushed by relatives for treatment.

According to county officials,the bar which was selling the lethal brew had not been licensed.

County Executive Committee Member (CECM) for Sports, Culture and Social Services Dennis Muciimi revealed that the County Liquor Licensing Committee had rejected an application to license the bar in December last year.

The brew is suspected to have been laced with ethanol.

Mr Muciimi said the application for the bar licence was rejected on the basis of allegations of selling of illicit brew, insecurity and poor sanitation.

“This particular outlet was operating illegally, it had not been issued with licence by the county government because of failing to comply with the County Alcoholic Drinks Control Act No. 3 of 2014 and all the requisite Regulations,” Mr Muciimi said.

He said the county has a rigorous liquor licensing system meant to protect consumers.