Malawi's Chanco student dies after consuming alcohol sachets

A second year Bachelor of Education student at Malawi’s main constituent of the University of Malawi, Chancellor College,  has died after he excessivelydrinkinsg sachets of high-potent spirits., Nyasa Times has established.

Several sources Nyasa Times talked to confirmed the death of Victor Juma.

It is reported that the student met his fate at populous Chikanda Township in Zomba where he is said to have taken the spirits in large quantities.

“Yes it is true we have lost a promising young man called Victor Juma. He actually took one too many of the spirits,” said one of the senior lecturers in the faculty of education department who asked not to have his identity disclosed.

Dead after binge drinking: The case of liquor sachets in Malawi. The dead person in the picture is not the student but another sachet statistics in Malawi

“ He was an intelligent young man but his commitment to books was apparently affected by his beer drinking behavior,” he added.

Meanwhile, at the time of posting of this story, Malawi police had not made any public statement on the sudden demise of the student.

But a police officer told Nyasa Times a postmortem would be conducted to ascertain the cause of death.

Soon after the death of Juma was known to the students, silence, grief and sorrow engulfed the university campus as the deceased was reportedly well known in the old capital city and the Chirunga campus.

Reacting to Juma’s death, a teenaged lady identifying herself as Stella Msusa posted on her Facebook page: “Steven Paas as you were popularly known among fellow education students, we will miss you so much brother.”

It is the second time this year alone that Chanco has lost a student on campus following the death of another education student who committed suicide in August.

Stachets ban campaign

President Joyce Banda’s strongly warned distillers and retailers of spirit sold in sachets and plastic bottles to immediately check wanton and indiscriminate sell and consumption of the beer which had suddenly  found the youths to be their serious customers.

In a bid address the situation, government in the 2012/2013 financial plan, slapped a 250 percent excise tax on alcohol in sachets and plastic bottles.

Member of parliament for Lilongwe Msozi South (MCP), Vitus Dzoole Mwale  told Parliament   alcohol in sachets is “totally being abused mainly by the youth to an extent that a young child aged even 10 years nowadays is found taking alcohol in sachets because it is very cheap.”

He said Malawi is “losing many lives because of the strong alcohol abuse.”

Dzoole Mwale  “strongly recommend to government to ban the sachets.”

Drug Fight Malawi executive director Nelson Zakeyu is also campaigning for the ban of alcohol in satchets , “saying Zambia did it early this year, why not us?”

Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS) decided in June 2010 to ban the sale of liquor in plastic bags. The decisions provided that all liquor must be sold in glass bottle and that MBS should define a minimum size of such containers.

The producers were given a six months grace period to phase out the use of plastic containers and to introduceglass bottles.

The grace period ended 17th January this year. However, the ban could not be enforced by the government. One of the distilling companies,  Bwenzi Group which produces the Rider brand of spirits, had obtained a court order  which restrains the MBS to enforce the ban of sachets on its company.

Popular sachets liquor have been given very impressing brand names: Boss, Power’s No 1, Rider, Mafia, Champion and Black Punch!—(Additional reporting by Wanga Gwede, Nyasa Times)

 

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