About 42 people have been admitted at Thyolo District Hospital where they are receiving treatment after allegedly drinking locally brewed porridge also known as ‘thobwa’ in vernacular which is believed to have contained a poisonous substance.
Both the police and the hospital administration have since confirmed the development saying the admitted people who range from three to 50 years of age hail from Nansanya Village in the area of Traditional Authority Nchiramwela in the district.
District Environmental Health Officer (DEHO) Alfred Phiri said on June 18, the hospital received a report that members of a certain church were brought to the hospital after drinking ‘thobwa’ at the house of one of their fellow members.
“It was reported that all the victims were members of Life and Light Church in the area. On this fateful Sunday, the victims went give condolence a fellow church member who resides in the same village. After everything, the owner of the house offered the visitors the locally brewed drink which was later found out to have contained a poisonous substance,” said Phiri.
Phiri added that after some investigations, it was later found out that the ‘thobwa’ was contaminated with ‘Actelic’ which is believed to have been used to fumigate the maize that was later milled into ‘mgaiwa’.
“It is believed that the owner of the house used contaminated ‘mgaiwa’ to prepare for the thobwa as it (mgaiwa) might have contained some actelic which was still strong and poisonous,” said Phiri.
On this note, Phiri advised people in the district to follow the procedures and instructions whenever they were applying pesticides to their produce.
In her remarks, one of the victims Femia Chanunkha said soon after church service on Sunday, she together with some church members went to cheer up a fellow member a Mrs. Manjomo who had lost a relative.
“While at the house, Manjomo gave us thobwa to drink as part of welcoming us,” she said adding that after the ceremony everyone returned to their respective homes.
“On June 19, we heard that a lot of people who drunk the ‘thobwa’ were vomiting and some developed diarrhoea. My daughter also developed diarrhoea. We were then taken to the hospital to receive treatment,” said Chanunkha.
Meanwhile, the situation is said to be stable and the hospital management has since sent the samples of the drink to Lilongwe Central Hospital for further testing.
According to police, no foul play is suspected on the matter.