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ZCSA and Police Crack Down on Counterfeit Methylated Spirits Following Deaths in Pemba

A joint operation by the Zambia Police Service and the Zambia Compulsory Standards Agency (ZCSA) in Pemba District, Southern Province, resulted in the seizure of 25 bottles of suspected counterfeit methylated spirit and other ingredients linked to the production of homemade beer, which tragically led to fatalities among residents.

During the operation in Pemba’s Kasiya area, authorities discovered 25 bottles of “Beautiful and Premium” methylated spirit in a store, which have been recalled for further laboratory analysis. 

This action follows reports of deaths and hospitalizations due to the consumption of a concoction made from the suspected counterfeit spirit.

One survivor, Lweendo Hamachila, admitted to Monze General Hospital, reported consuming the mixture with friends, resulting in multiple fatalities and leaving him blind. 

Hamachila noted that while he had been consuming a similar mixture for years, the addition of the “Beautiful” methylated spirit was new and potentially hazardous.

Tragically, similar deaths have been reported in other areas, including Zimba, Monze, Kapiri Mposhi, Kalabo, and Namwala, indicating a widespread issue with counterfeit alcohol products.

Medical professionals, including Dr. Katongo Mulenga, acting medical superintendent at Monze Mission Hospital, expressed concern over the irreversible blindness experienced by some consumers of the concoction. 

Efforts to confiscate unauthorized chemical mixtures used in homemade beer production were hindered by the death of those responsible for the concoctions.

Both the Zambia Police Service and ZCSA issued a warning to the public against consuming beverages of unknown origin, emphasizing the potential health hazards and fatal consequences. 

They reminded manufacturers, importers, and traders of beverages of their obligation to obtain authorization from the ZCSA to ensure compliance with safety standards.

The joint statement was issued by Brian Hatyoka, Acting Manager of Communications and Public Relations at ZCSA, and Rae Hamoonga, Public Relations Officer of the Zambia Police Service, highlighting the ongoing efforts to safeguard public health and enforce regulatory standards in the beverage industry.

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