New Vision (Kampala)

5 December 2012

Uganda: Local Gin Claims Four, Blinds Three in Kampala

The Police is pursuing three distillers of potent gin over murder after adulterated alcohol killed four people and left blind in two weeks.

The Police say the victims died after consuming the gin from the bars owned by the distillers in the slums of Katanga, Kikumikikumi near Makerere and another slum on Sir Apollo Kaggwa Road, all in Kampala suburbs.

Wandegeya Police boss Ceasar Tusingwire suspected that the victims died after consuming the deadly brew reported to be packaged in polythene bags and jerrycans.

"The victims leave the bars for their homes after drinking sprees, but usually fail to wake up the next day. Others suffer severe headache, drowsiness, vomiting, blurred vision, fits and eventually end up in a coma," Tusingwire said.

Difficulty in breathing and suffocation also occurred in some cases.

Residents carry Mwanje's body after he was killed by the potent brew

In Katanga slum, Kimwanyi Zone chairman Richard Mugaiga confirmed the deaths and the cases of several people blinded after taking the suspected gin.

He quoted relatives as saying a post-mortem report confirmed that Isaac Morris Mucunguzi died on Sunday after consuming the gin containing huge traces of methanol.

Other dead victims were identified as Joyce Kageya buried in Luweero on Monday, William Mpembe, a guard, Taban Michael, who operates a video shack and Male Kojja.

Admitted at Mulago Hospital after losing his sight, Robert Wakamara of Katale Zone in Wandegeya said he was in the company of some of the deceased at a local bar on Thursday, where they consumed several litres of the potent gin.

"On Friday, when I woke up, all I could see was darkness. I hope I get cured and regain my sight," he said yesterday.

The Police on Tuesday seized three jerrycans containing the suspected killer brew from shops and homes of the suspects. Samples of the brew were taken to the Government chemist for testing.

The landlords and local leaders of some of the victims have since fled for fear of being arrested.

The Police warned the public against consuming local brews, saying most of them contained impurities.

"The public should only drink brews that are tested and cleared for consumption by the Uganda National Bureau of Standards," Tusingwire reiterated.

These deaths are the latest fatalities attributed to consumption of impure liquor in Uganda.

Last year, over 28 people died in Gulu, Kabarole, Kasese, Kampala, Mpigi and Entebbe.

Tusingwire said the culprits will be prosecuted once arrested.

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