A health department spokesperson said of 20 patients with methanol poisoning admitted to False Bay Hospital, seven had died. File picture: Pexels
A health department spokesperson said of 20 patients with methanol poisoning admitted to False Bay Hospital, seven had died. File picture: Pexels

Seven die from home-made alcohol in Masiphumelele

By Lisa Isaacs and Athandile Siyo Time of article published Jun 4, 2020

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Cape Town – Authorities have warned of the potential consequences of drinking home-made liquor as seven people died and five others were hospitalised after consuming alcohol tainted with methanol.

Southern/Western Sub-structure health department spokesperson Natalie Watlington said of 20 patients with methanol poisoning admitted to False Bay Hospital, seven had died.

Five of the patients have been transferred either to Victoria Hospital or Groote Schuur Hospital.

“The cause of the methanol poisoning was due to the consumption of alcohol tainted with methanol. It is alleged that the patients admitted all attended the same party on Sunday, May 31.

“All patients affected were from Masiphumelele and we would like to encourage the community to be vigilant,” Watlington said.

Methanol, sometimes used as a cheap substitute for ethanol, is a highly flammable and toxic chemical that can be produced during fermentation, through the hydrogenation of carbon monoxide. Ingesting methanol can cause vomiting, blindness, kidney failure and death.

Watlington said the department urged communities to avoid the consumption of methanol as a substitute for alcohol in order to avoid bodily harm.

The department was not able to provide information on methanol poisoning at other public facilities.

Police spokesperson Andrè Traut said the circumstances leading to the deaths of six men between the ages of 35 and 49 were under investigation after they allegedly consumed home-made beer in Masiphumelele on Sunday.

“It is alleged that 10 males were admitted to False Bay Hospital, where the (seven) succumbed to death. Death inquest case dockets have been registered and the exact cause of their death is yet to be determined,” he said.

The deaths happened on Sunday, a day before the ban on the sale of alcohol was lifted, which traffic officials have attributed to the spike in road accidents.

Yesterday, the driver of a taxi fled the scene after his vehicle struck a pole, killing two people and injuring 15 others.

Witnesses at the scene said the front of the taxi smelt of alcohol. The driver allegedly lost control of the vehicle on Jakes Gerwel Drive.

Police spokesperson FC Van Wyk said the passengers were transported to different hospitals.

“No arrests have been made, as it is alleged that the driver fled the scene. Cases of culpable homicide, reckless and negligent driving, and failure to report an accident were registered for investigation at Athlone SAPS,” he said.

In a separate crash, on the corner of Old Klipfontein Road and Jan Smuts Drive yesterday, an 80-year-old was killed. Van Wyk said it was alleged that a vehicle failed to stop at a traffic light and collided with the vehicle that was transporting the man.

Transport MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela said he was saddened by the deaths and sent his condolences to the families.

“I urge all our drivers, especially public transport drivers, to obey the rules of the road. As we get more people back to work during lockdown level 3, we are seeing an increase in the number of cars on our roads, and a high number of people who are transgressing.

“I want to urge all drivers to make sure they obey the law. We do not want to communicate about people who are losing lives on our roads while we are fighting the spread of Covid-19,” he said.

Anyone with information can anonymously contact the Athlone SAPS on 021 697 9238/39; Crime Stop on 086 001 0111 or SMS Crime Line on 32211.

Cape Times

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