Laced wedding beer lands 150 in hospital

GISAGARA – 151 residents of Murambi village, Ramba cell in Mamba sector, Gisagara District, were rushed to Gakoma Hospital after consuming contaminated beer at a wedding.
Some of the affected, including children, were being treated in open air as the hospital got overwhelmed. The New Times / J.P Bucyensenge
Some of the affected, including children, were being treated in open air as the hospital got overwhelmed. The New Times / J.P Bucyensenge

GISAGARA – 151 residents of Murambi village, Ramba cell in Mamba sector, Gisagara District, were rushed to Gakoma Hospital after consuming contaminated beer at a wedding.

According to local residents and authorities, the residents complained of serious stomach-aches, headaches and diarrhea.

The first patients were admitted at the hospital Sunday night, on Christmas. Earlier in the day, they had attended a local marriage ceremony.

An eyewitness told The New Times: “Everyone who consumed the sorghum beer which was prepared for the feast fell sick”.

“It is only those who drank soda and banana juice that were not affected ...It was very terrible. One would start complaining of stomach-aches and headaches, but within a period of about 15 minutes they would no longer be able to walk steadily,” said Jean Damascene Ngezahayo, another eyewitness.

“We started transporting them on traditional stretchers, but the number of patients was growing very quickly. We called for ambulances but they could not carry all the affected, until when a military vehicle arrived”.

Residents suspect that the locally-made sorghum beer might have been contaminated as people were busy preparing for the reception of the marriage ceremony.

“I am very disappointed and saddened by what happened. About 50 members of my family were affected, including three of my children and my wife. Anyone who did this wanted to kill all of us,” said Narcisse Kanyandekwe, the father of the bride.

At the time The New Times visited Gakoma Hospital on Tuesday no patient had been discharged, but most were steadily recovering.

Inside the hospital, some of the sick lay down outside the consultation room waiting for doctors.

Efforts to get a comment from the director of the hospital, Dr Fulgence Nkikabahizi, were futile as he declined to comment.

The Ministry of Health has deployed a team of experts to follow up the situation,  though results of the tests carried out to determine the cause were not yet out as samples had been sent to Kigali.

This paper also learnt that no patient was allowed to leave the hospital until the real cause of their complications was established.

Family members who sought to visit their relatives were barred from accessing hospital premises.

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