Three die, five critical after eating poisoned porridge

13 Jan 2016 17:00pm
By Uerikoha Tjijombo
OPUWO, 13 JAN (NAMPA) – Three children died on Wednesday morning after eating porridge mixed with the sediment of traditional beer (tombo) at the Otjikondavirongo village in the Kunene Region.
This residue is normally dried and used to brew more traditional beer.
Kunene regional commissioner for the Namibian Police Force (NamPol), James Nderura confirmed the incident to Nampa on Wednesday.
The children - Kataeko Tjindunda; Tjanakambendje Tjindunda, and Mbatajao Tjiposa, all aged 3 - died at about 03h00, while another five victims are in a critical condition in the Opuwo State Hospital. Kataeko and Tjanakambendje are twin girls.
Kakuriua Tjiposa, 13; Kautimbaka Tjiumbua, 1; Vehuririsa Tjiposa, 1; Tuaputua Tjiposa and Vekondja Tjiposa (both adults of unknown age) are battling for their lives in that hospital.
It is alleged that the porridge was prepared by the children, who, when they saw the porridge was too thin, added the dried sediment of the traditional beer, not knowing that it is a poisonous substance.
According to the police report, the victims started vomiting and suffered severe diarrhoea after consuming the porridge.
Many residents here have attributed the incident to the delay in distributing drought relief food by the relevant authorities.
“I am not beating about the bush. It is true that there is a delay in distributing the drought relief food meant to help such people; it’s not reaching in time, causing the loss of innocent lives such as these,” the governor of the Kunene Region Angelika Muharukua responded.
She said that she recently had to intervene and negotiate for 3 000 bags of maize to be taken to people in the Epupa Constituency as they have been without food for months.
The Director of Hizetjitwa Indigenous People’s Organisation (Hipo), Tjikunda Kulunga concurs with Muharukua, saying Government officials entrusted with the responsibility to distribute drought relieve food are “taking holiday on the job”.
“Food is not reaching these people on time - a situation leading to such unfortunate instances resulting in the loss of innocent lives such as in this case,” a heartbroken Kulunga told Nampa.
The Otjikondavirongo village is in the area of Otjomuru in the Epupa Constituency.