Killer brew: Bar owner to remain in custody for 20 days

A man speaks to Kirinyaga Health Executive George Karoki at California Bar in Kirinyaga. He was among revellers who consumed illicit brew. [Courtesy]

A court in Baricho, Kirinyaga county, has allowed the police to detain the owner of a bar that sold illicit brew that killed 13 people for 20 days.

John Muriithi Karaya alias ‘California’ was arrested and produced before Baricho Law Courts on Wednesday, where the prosecution successfully made an application to have him detained at Kiamaciri Police Station in connection with the deaths of at least 13 people.

The victims died on February 6 after consuming illicit brew in California Bar, Kangai village.

The incident is said to have left five other victims blind. The matter is slated for mention on March 7, 2024.

Kirinyaga County and the national government have pledged to assist families meet the hospital and burial expenses of their kin.

Central Regional Commissioner Fredrick Shisia, Kangai ward MCA James Wambu and his Mutithi counterpart Njinaro Jamumo said that the county will foot the hospital bills and cater for the treatment of the affected persons. 

He said this would make it easy for others who have consumed the killer brew and have not yet presented any symptoms to seek medical attention. 

"The people who have died are from the same village. It is very stressful and will drain the villagers financially. We urge the national and the county governments to assist in meeting the burial expenses," said Wambu.

He also urged the two governments to assist in educating the children left behind following the deaths of the families breadwinners.

"We call upon the two governments to also chip in and educate the children who have been left after the death of their breadwinners," Wambu said.

Residents have now called upon the Ministry of Interior to transfer officers attached to the Kangai police post and sack the chief and his assistant, claiming that they have been collecting bribes from the owner of California bar.

They claimed that more deaths could be recorded if the suspect is released and appealed to the court not to grant him bail.

"We fear more deaths will be witnessed if he is released. The court should not be lenient on him," said a resident who sought anonymity.

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