69 people die at a funeral after drinking beer poisoned with crocodile bile7
Tragedy has struck the country of Mozambique this week after 69 people died at a funeral. Such a large number of deaths at an event that was already set for mourning was not just a tragedy for the families involved, it was painful for the entire nation.
Accorind to BDLive, the people died from drinking contaminated beer during the ceremony. The beer contained crocodile bile, which is poisonous for those who drink it. Those who attended the funeral started to become ill at a local bar after the funeral, leading to dozens of people going to the hospital.
The ceremony took place in the Chitima in the central Cahora Bassa district on Saturday of this week. Even the bar owner died from drinking the beer, which she brewed himself, along with her two children.
The death toll isn’t the only terrible part of this story. There are 196 other people who remain in the hospital, receiving treatment, so the death numbers may actually increase. The number of fatalities was so great that the local morgue was overrun in the town. According to officials, the morgue in Cahora Bassa only has capacity for two bodies at a time.
Health Minister Alexandre Manguele said victims’ blood and samples have been sent to the capital for testing. They are trying to get to the bottom of what happened here. They may also ask South Africa to help the nation determine the cause of death.
Radio Mozambique has reported that the mourners were drinking something called Pombe (pronounced Phombe), which is a mix of sorghum, bran, corn, and sugar. In addition to killing the bar owner, her daughter, nephew and four members of nearby families were all victims of the poisonous beer.
In case you’re wondering, crocodile bile comes from the gall bladders of crocodiles in the Nile. It has been used in witchcraft, according to Professor N.Z. Nyazema, who studies Clinical Pharmacology at the University of Zimbabwe. The bile contains detergent molecules, called bile salts, which dissolve fats within animals.
Professor Nyazema told Forbes Magazine:
“It is widely believed that the bile from the gall bladder of a crocodile is very poisonous. The bile nduru is used as poison which is added to beer or stiff porridge, sadza, of an unsuspecting victim. It is not easy to buy this poison neither is it easy for anyone to kill a crocodile solely for the purpose of obtaining the bile. But with a good fee one can obtain some of the poison from a special n’anga [a traditional healer of the Zimbabwean Shona tribe]. At times the n’anga may undertake to poison the victim thus adding mystery to the ingredients of the poison. It is reported that the poisoning occurs at special occasions like beer drinking: The nduru is said to be introduced into the beer by dipping the finger or nail where a small amount is placed: This will suffice for the purpose. The unfortunate victim is supposed to die within 24 hours. The poison is supposed to manifest itself when the patient develops pains mainly in the abdomen.”