CEOs among 52 top officials sacked as brew death toll rises

Thursday May 08 2014
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Ms Josephine Karimi, 45, at Embu Level 5 Hospital on May 8, 2014 where she was admitted after consuming an illicit drink that has killed more than 80 people. Fifty two public officials have been interdicted over the tragedy. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI


Fifty two public officers were interdicted on Thursday in connection with illicit alcohol that has claimed 81 lives in five counties.

The officers include two CEOs, a deputy county commissioner, OCPDs and heads of intelligence.

The government also cancelled all licences of the manufacturers, distributors and sellers of second generation brews and gave those who wish to continue with the business 48 hours to re-apply.

The Cabinet Secretary for Interior and National Coordination, Mr Joseph ole Lenku, also said that the government would bring charges of murder against the manufacturers and sellers of the killer brews.

“Packaging and sale of alcoholic drinks in sachets, jerricans and other unlabelled containers are hereby banned,” he declared.

He also declared a ban on hawking of alcohol including by traders outside their licensed areas.


“Nacada will profile all manufacturers and alcoholic drinks outlets, in collaboration with public health and county security committees in order to review all licences,” he said.

The Nacada CEO, Dr William Okedi, and his anti-counterfeit agency counterpart, Dr John Akoten, were interdicted as they were responsible for standards and regulations, according to Mr Lenku.

However, their Kenya Bureau of Standards (KeBS) counterpart was spared after the Cabinet Secretary said that the seals on the brews were discovered to be fake after investigation but he put KeBS on notice.

He said the illicit alcohol had affected five counties in the last few days. “Some 175 people are still hospitalised, a number of them in critical conditions.”

He said that the government had established that the illicit alcohol that was consumed in those counties was purely methanol.

“Embu has borne the brunt of the brew, suffering a death toll of 36 and another 93 still in hospital,” he said.

The minister directed that molasses be salted to make it unfit for manufacturing alcohol and industrial alcohol to be coloured to ensure that it is eliminated as an ingredient in the production of any alcoholic drinks production.

“I will gazette authorised officers in all counties for the purpose of enforcement of laws relating to alcohol and drug abuse.”

“All Kenyans should participate in the fight against alcohol and drug abuse. As these cases have powerfully demonstrated, alcohol and drugs can and do kill,” said the Cabinet Secretary.

Among those suspended were Embu deputy county commissioner Erastus Mbui, OCPD  Elphas Koris and DCIO Abdul Muyaki.

In Kiambu, Deputy County Commissioner William Kang’ethe, OCPD Michael Mutisya and DCIO Jackson Owino were sent home.

In Mwingi Central, Deputy County Commissioner Abdulatif Nzune and DCIO Josphat Chepto were suspended.

And in Murang’a, Deputy County Commissioner Alabnaus Mutiso and OCPD John Katumo were sent home while in Ikutha, Deputy County Commissioner Jacob Matibei and DCIO Johnstone Libise were interdicted.

Makueni DCIO Miriam Wairimu and County Commissioner John Otieno were suspended.


Meanwhile, a manufacturer, identified as Comrade Investment, was blamed for producing two of the drinks that caused the deaths and its operating licence immediately cancelled.

Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said the two brands had up to 100 per cent methanol. Two owners were also arrested.

Sacramento Cane Spirit and Countryman were identified as being behind the deaths in Makueni, Kitui, Murang’a, Kiambu and Embu.

The products are manufactured by M/S Comrade Investments located in Kayole, Nairobi.

Other brands manufactured by the company include Hardyman Brandy, Hardyman Gin, Hardyman Vodka, Georges Vodka, Georges Brandy, Rhyneberg Brandy, Pamoja Brandy and Pamoja Gin.

“The results show high levels of methanol content which in normal circumstances is supposed to be at zero per cent. This is contrary to the provision of Section 5 of the Food, Drugs and Chemical Substance Act,” said Macharia. 

Reported by Samwuel Born Maina, Joy Wanja-Muraya and Charles Wanyoro