Six Zimbabweans have reportedly died and four other hospitalized after drinking homemade beer in Western Cape South Africa.
Methanol poisoning from homemade concoctions wiped out a group of 10 Zimbabwean nationals, leaving six dead and four hospitalized with damaged eyesight.
Colonel Andrè Traut of SAPS Western Cape Media Centre confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that:
“The circumstances surrounding the death of six male persons aged between 35 and 49 are under investigation after they allegedly consumed homemade beer on Sunday in Masiphumelele.
“Ten Zimbabwean men were admitted to False Bay Hospital where six succumbed to death. Four men are still receiving treatment at False Bay and Victoria Hospitals,they were diagnosed of methanol poisoning.
One of the deceased identified as Tapera Edward Kuseni is survived by two children and an eight months pregnant wife Sania Rungana.
Sania revealed that her husband died a week ago at False Bay Hospital after drinking a R20 homemade 500ml alcohol mixture from a neighbor.
“My husband started drinking on Saturday. He came home and slept and drank again in the evening on Sunday. The person selling the alcohol was our neighbour. We didn’t think anything of the alcohol and the bottles had no writing on them,” said Rungana.
She said on Monday morning her husband couldn’t speak and “seemed confused”.
“He was supposed to go to work that day. At first I thought he was just hungover, but when I saw that he was getting worse I called the landlord. By that time he was not speaking, he couldn’t see, and didn’t know what was happening,” said Rungana.
“I am eight months pregnant with two other children, and my husband, our provider, is gone. I honestly do not know what we are going to do now,” said 33-year-old Sania Rungana, who is unemployed.
Kuseni’s brother, Richard Chinembiri, said: “I was drinking with my brother on Saturday and Sunday. And on Monday morning I was to wake up early and go to the market. But I had a severe headache and I thought I was still hungover.”
He had not at first thought that the problem was related to the alcohol.
“I went with them to the hospital and we had him [Kuseni] admitted and I came back home, but things started getting worse — the headache was worse and I couldn’t walk properly. I was admitted into hospital the same night my brother died,” he said.
He was discharged days later, but he still feels weak.
“My eyesight is not good. I can only see things that are close by and I have constant joint pains and headaches. I could have died,” said Chinembiri.
“I want my eyes to get better because without them I can’t work. With my brother gone, I need to be able to support the family and can’t do that if my eyes are still like this,” he said.
Natalie Watlington, Western Cape Department of Health Principal Communications Officer for Southern Western Sub-structures, confirmed the cases.
Watlington said, “Western Cape Government Health would like to urge members of the community to avoid the consumption of methanol as a substitute for alcohol in order to avoid bodily harm.”