Windhoek — Holidaymakers and residents of the northern town of Omuthiya experienced a festive season of panic due to unsubstantiated reports of food and drink poisoning having reached fever pitch at the town and surrounding villages.
"You never leave your glass behind in this town. Not even if you are with a friend, you cannot trust anyone here," a villager informed this reporter. However, the reports which some believe to be mere rumours refuse to die, despite reassurances by law enforcement officials and local authority leaders that there is no grain of truth in them. Oshikoto Regional Crime Investigations Coordinator Chief Inspector Sam Mbinge brushed aside the persistent rumours saying his office is not "aware of such a thing."
"I have no idea or knowledge of any case of poisoning in Omuthiya." Omuthiya Gwiipundi Constituency Councillor, Armas Amukoto also said he was unaware of any cases of poisoning at Omuthiya. "As regional councillor, there cannot be something like that without me hearing about it. I think it is just a rumour."
The village rumour mill has reached fever pitch insomuch that people in the community no longer trust each other. Patrons to watering holes and local eateries literally walked around with their food and drinks in hand during the festive season, even when responding to the call of nature.
"We do not know who the people are. No one has yet been arrested or confessed to poisoning, so everyone could be a suspect. Even you yourself could be one of them, it is a serious and scary thing," a woman at the town told New Era. She declined to be identified.
It is rumoured at the town that four people have already died so far from food and drink poisoning. "One was a taxi loading master who was found dead the next morning. Another died following a wedding after going to bed not complaining of any sickness," said one resident without substantiating her claims.
Not even the fact that no person has yet been arrested or announced dead or sick appears to be quelling the gossip at the town. New Era could not establish any of the claims with any hospital or the local authorities. Some belive that the poison suspected is probably ant poison, currently used by contractors at construction sites to remove the numerous anthills in the fast growing town. Omuthiya was proclaimed a town and the capital of the Oshikoto Region in 2008.