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Kiambu residents return ‘bad’ relief food as source remains unclear

Monday May 25 2020
food-pic

Some of the foodstuffs given to residents of Gikambura in Kikuyu, Kiambu County on May 24, 2020 and which was returned to the chief after claims that it was unfit for human consumption. Kiambu County Commissioner Wilson Wanyanga and Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung'wah have differed over the source of the 'bad food'. PHOTO | SIMON CIURI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By SIMON CIURI

Confusion has arisen over the real source of relief food donated to some Kiambu County residents and which is said to be contaminated, forcing its recipients to return it.

Kiambu County Governor James Nyoro said Monday that 12 people who consumed the food have been rushed to Tigoni, Kiambu and Thika Level 5 Hospitals.

Mr Nyoro said the victims were picked from their homes by health officials by county ambulances after they complained of severe stomach ache.

"The Deputy County Commissioner team has also been on the ground and confirmed that the incident of the distribution of the contaminated food is true," said Mr Nyoro when he addressed the press at County headquarters on Monday

He noted some of the patients were in critical condition.

Kiambu County Commissioner Wilson Wanyanga had earlier in the day maintained that the food consumed by some families was distributed by Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung'wah and a team said to be affiliated to Deputy President William Ruto.

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However, Dr Ruto and Mr Ichung'wah on Monday denied involvement in distribution of the ‘bad food’ as it emerged that there may have been different sources of donations in the county recently.

David Githinji, a resident of Gikambura who received the food donation on Sunday at around 4.30 pm, told the Nation that a Toyota Land Cruiser vehicle arrived and one of the occupants signalled to a pedestrian to come and pick the food. He later sped off.

“It was a pack of cooking oil, maize flour and sugar. We noticed the tea leaves had a sour and funny taste and colour when we used it. Later on one of my family members had a stomach ache. We have just recorded a statement with the police,” Mr Githinji told the Nation.

An official at the Kiambu County’s Health department told the Nation that they had taken samples of the foodstuffs for laboratory tests.

Mr Wanyanga said that 24 people have so far returned the foodstuff.

DISTRIBUTION CHANNELS

Mr Wanyanga told the Nation that he was aware of the distribution channels from Mr Ichung’wah’s camp and even went ahead to provide contacts and the names of the churches and pastors who were tasked with distributing the foodstuffs.

He said his office was never consulted or involved in the distribution of the food.

“The pastors were given food to distribute to their followers. People have started returning it to the chief in charge of Gikambura area where the food was distributed,” Mr Wanyanga told the Nation.

“I was not involved in the distribution. Nobody else has distributed food in that area. It came from Mr Ichung'wah and his team,” he added.

Governor Nyoro, in an update on Monday afternoon, said food donations should only be distributed by the Deputy County Commissioner and Sub-county administrator.

Contacted by the Nation, Mr Ichung'wah did not rule out having distributed food in the said area but clarified that they did so through the help of local pastors but not through unknown individuals.

He said the foodstuffs said to be unfit for consumption and which were branded 'William Ruto Foundation and Kimani Ichung'wah' had been distributed by political opponents to portray them in bad light.

'NOT FROM US'

“These are fake packaging and the said foodstuff did not come from us. We distributed our food through organised channels that involved church leaders with a list of identified beneficiaries,” said Mr Ichung'wah.

“But what we have gathered so far is that the food which has turned out to be unfit for consumption was being distributed by someone in a land cruiser in Gikambura and, as a matter of fact, it did not come from us,” explained the Kikuyu legislator.

HOSPITALISED

Alice Wangui told the Nation that she had taken tea from her neighbour who had received the donation. She started developing a dry cough, headache and stomach ache.

"I had visited my neighbour on Sunday evening who offered me some tea laced with the sugar that she had been given on Sunday as a donation. After sipping the tea twice, I felt a dry cough followed by a headache and stomachache...We were later picked by a Kiambu County ambulance that took us to Ruthigiti Hospital," she said.

Another resident, Beatrice Wanjiru, told the Nation that she received the food donation from people who were in what looked like a tour van.

She was given maize flour, green grams (ndengu), sugar and salad oil. After consuming the sugar, she started sweating and developed a stomach ache.

"I had picked the food donations from people who were diving a vehicle that looked like a tour van. They gave me maize flour, sugar, cooking oil. I first used sugar when I got home and started having stomach ache and sweating all over my body. We notified a local leader and we were later picked by an ambulance," said Ms Wanjiru.

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