Tears, grief galore as victims of Nakuru illicit brew buried

Thursday, August 19th, 2021 00:00 |
Caskets containing the remains of seven of the 10 victims of Hodi Hodi illicit brew tragedy during the funeral service at Hodi Hodi village, Nakuru sub-county, yesterday. Photo/RAPHAEL MUNGE

Pain and regret were palpable as the bodies of the victims of last week’s killer brew in Bahati, Nakuru county arrived at Hodi Hodi village—the scene of the deadly incident—where a joint funeral service was conducted.

While Hodi Hodi village derives its name from Kiswahili word hodi which basically means to knock the door, locals here seemed to have flung their doors open, therefore, allowing illicit brews - laced with poisonous substances - to thrive. 

It has come with a huge cost! It left 10 people dead in its wake, the oldest being 58 years and the youngest 26.

It has also emerged that three victims who have been recuperating in hospital have lost their sight - permanently. 

Yesterday, hundreds of residents milled around the place as the bodies were offloaded from the hearses that had ferried them from Kwa Jack Mortuary and the Nakuru Level Five Hospital mortuary where they were preserved for the last 10 days.

Overwhelmed by grief

Some captured the happenings and particularly the caskets using their phones as mothers, overwhelmed by grief, wiped away their tears quietly. For Mzee John Njoroge, 74, the story is different, tragedy struck twice.

He says his son James Wachira, 32, lost his wife a few years ago to illicit brews and this time the deadly liquor wiped him together with his pregnant girlfriend Eunice Nyambura who was 35-years old. 

“I have never seen such a thing in my life. I am shocked and saddened… the pain is too much to carry,” the 74-year-old said.

“He is my last born child. He was a good boy and to lose him this way, it is so painful,” he said. 

Describing his son as a well-mannered boy, Mzee Njoroge said that the young man joined a local driving school after Class Eight adding he later became a matatu driver and tout before venturing into menial jobs. 

He said that he was engaged in masonry at the time of his death. “For so many people to die in one day because of human activities, it is shocking to say the least,” he said adding that the deceased was living with his sister in the area. 

Joseph Maina, 70, painfully narrated how he received the sad news surrounding his son Stephen Maina, 50, on the fateful day.

“I was told that he was among those who had been rushed to hospital but unfortunately we lost him,” he said.

He described his son, a father of three children, as hardworking saying that he was initially a milk vendor before venturing into masonry like Wachira. He too dropped out of school at Standard Eight. 

Responsible man

Maina said his son was a responsible man adding that he only imbibed after finishing his work at the end of the day.

“He was a disciplined man. In fact his first child is married so he is a grandfather just like me,” he said. 

“If government officers did their work diligently we would not be here today burying our brother and his friends,” said Stephen Maina, a cousin of the deceased.

He had accompanied the old man to the morgue, giving him a shoulder to lean on. 

Wiping tears, Esther Wachira, 48, narrated how many young men in the area have seen their lives turned upside down because of illicit brews. Her brother Francis Kiburi, 38, was one of the fatalities. 

She said that many young people had fallen into the trap of illicit brews adding that sellers often drag them out of their drinking dens unto the road to “avoid them dying in their houses”. 

“These things are poisonous and they know,” she said. “I wish you would come here in the evenings, from 6pm and see with your own eyes the sorry state of affairs… young men lying by the road unconscious because of this poisonous drinks. We are going to lose a generation if the government doesn’t act fast.”

“My brother was in good health. He never died because of disease or road accident… he died because somebody sold him poison,” she exclaimed.

The funeral service was attended by Governor Lee Kinyanjui, Senator Susan Kihika, Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria and area MP Kimani Ngunjiri. 

Governor Kinyanjui announced a crackdown on bars selling illicit brews saying fresh vetting will be conducted in the next few days.

He said that the war against illicit brews can only be won if all government agencies, including the National Intelligence Service worked closely.

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