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At least four people have died in the northern Mozambican province of Niassa, after consuming a home-brewed alcoholic drink known as “catcholima”, according to a report on the independent television station STV.
The spokesperson for the Niassa Provincial Police Command, Alves Mathe, described this as a case of “alcoholic poisoning”.
“We became aware of the case after we were told there were three bodies in one of the houses where local people habitually gather to consume home-made drinks”, he said.
Three bodies, two men and a woman, were found in this house in Chivigo village, in Lichinga district. The fourth victim was found in a house in Sanjala neighbourhood in the provincial capital, Lichinga city. It was not clear whether this victim had consumed the drink at the same time as the other three.
Preliminary medical examinations concluded that the victims died from consuming poisoned “catcholima”. So far there is no suggestion that the poisoning was deliberate. Mathe said the police have collected what remains of the drink for laboratory examination.
The Ministry of Health has expressed concern at the dangerously unhygienic conditions under which traditional drinks are brewed. Tragedy struck in 2015 at Chitima, in Tete province, where 75 people died after drinking a home-made alcoholic brew called “pombe”.
Murder was immediately suspected, and one man was even detained for a few days, before the police had to release him because of the lack of any evidence for a conspiracy theory of deliberate mass poisoning.
But a thorough investigation, including laboratory analyses in South Africa and the United States, showed that the drink had been contaminated with strong toxic acids. Rotten maize flour used in brewing the “pombe” contained bacteria which had produced the toxins.Source: AIM