Pombe is a traditional beer in Mozambique that is made by local producers from corn flour, millet. The mother of the newborn that died and whose funeral everybody was at is the one who brewed the beer. The place she lives in says more than words: near the Cahora Bassa lake. As it is a drink that is often served in ceremonies, she did as well. But after some investigations, the supposition is that the pombe was poisoned with nothing more than crocodile bile.
It is a well known fact that crocodile bile is poisonous. The African tradition says that if you kill a crocodile or your find a dead one, you must take his bile and bury it in the ground with witnesses, so that everybody knows that you can’t use it in the future for damaging someone’s health, voluntarily or not. However, Radio Mozambique sustained an interview with locals in which their admitted that crocodile bile poisoning was common in the area.
And the 69 dead people are not the only ones affected by this unforgiving liquid: 196 other people were admitted in the hospital of the Chitima district, showing poisoning symptoms as stomach aches and diarrhea. The mourners who drank the beer in the morning told the authorities that they didn’t have any symptoms, in comparison with those who drank it in the afternoon, when the ceremony took place. As a consequence, it is thought that the beer poisoning took place while everybody was gathered at the funeral.
Provincial health director Carle Mosse said that samples of beer and blood were taken away for testing in the capital of Mozambique, Maputo.
“We are waiting for the results of the tests of the samples being done at Maputo Central Hospital so that we can identify the type of the product put into the drink”
The authorities believe that the situation could worsen, because the families don’t have the necessary resources to deal with such a situation.
At the moment, there are no results of the tests, but health workers have come to Chitima district to assist and help in case it is needed. Additionally, food supplies, clothes and coffins are gathered for the affected families.
Mozambique’s government announced that Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday will be mourning days in the whole country for the tragedy that happened in the Chitima district.
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