A woman was killed and a child escaped with burn injuries in Kayonza District in a suspected fire incident at a rudimentary home distillery.
Esther Mukambarushimana, 22, was found dead at the family’s rural home in Rubimba Village, Kabare Sector on Sunday.
The deceased was making illegal home-made brew, locally known as kanyanga, with her husband, now on the run, while their three-year-old son Egide Murengezi was in the vicinity.
The child sustained serious burns and is currently admitted to Cyarubare Health Centre.
Erneste Bikorimana, 26, the widower, escaped the accident unhurt.
According to neighbours, Bikorimana, a notorious Kanyanga distiller, went in hiding after learning that his wife had succumbed to serious burns.
Emmanuel Kayigi, the Eastern Region Police spokesperson, said too many people are disregarding the law on illegal distilling of alcohol.
“Kabare Sector is one of the hot spots of illegal distillers and dealers in the illicit alcohol. They have ignored the dangers of what they do. They cannot safely distill alcohol and illegal,” he said.
“We have been battling the illegal alcohol trade; it is unfortunate that things have reached this level. People should understand the dangers of distilling the liquor; it goes beyond breaking the law to affecting their lives.”
Residents who spoke to The New Times said the business’s profitability is irresistible.
Illegal distillers in the area are many and they are making a fortune, Jean Damascene Ndahayo, a resident, said.
“Kanyanga business is lucrative, so it is no wonder people continue distilling it despite the high risks involved.
The death was an accident like any other and it will not deter other distillers,” he said.
A 64-year-old resident said other ways of addressing the issue should be devised because it is difficult to stamp out the vice
“I am 64 years old but I have been seeing people distill kanyanga all my life. The alcohol gives us money, it is also cheap and serves the purpose. So, it’s not easy to stop it,” the man who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal, said.