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Survivors recount how they escaped death as chang’aa death toll increases

Silas Wafula and Eugene Wafula at Kimilili level 4 hospital where they were still under medication after consumption of chang'aa [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Mr Silas Wafula is angry, hungry, dehydrated and does not want to hear anything about chang’aa.

He counts himself lucky not to be among the five revellers who died on Tuesday after taking chang’aa which medics believe was laced with poison.

“It is my first and final year of drinking. I have lost drinking buddies and survived by a whisker. I will not touch any type of alcohol,” said the 38-year-old man who was brought to hospital by village elder Mr Wafula Lupano.

Mr Lupano was alarmed when two residents succumbed after drinking the illicit brew in Canaan village in Kimilili Sub-County. One died on Tuesday night and another yesterday morning.

Mr Lupano took it upon himself to make a quick inquiry on the people who visited the ‘Mama County’ chang’aa den and took them to the hospital for tests. He rounded up about 10 villagers he suspected had drunk the local brew the previous day.

Mr Silas and his cousin Mr Eugene Wafula were taken to Kimilili Level 4 Hospital. “I can’t pinpoint which particular den we were at because we were on a drinking spree and drank in different dens,” Mr Eugene said.

Mama County owner Ms Irene Naliaka is also admitted in critical condition at the Kimilili hospital. Police in Bungoma say she is “a person of interest in the case”.

They complained of blurred vision and weak limbs.

Dr David Shivachi, the medical superintendent, said 13 people are admitted but only one is in critical condition. Two died in the village and three in hospital.