Weather Fiji, Suva   Max 30°C, Min 23°C

Fiji Sun

NEWS

Homebrew Warning

Homebrew Warning
Menusi Rakoto, 33, who died at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva after vomiting blood from drinking homebrew laced with an unknown chemical. Photo: Facebook
April 24
11:53 2018

Police have issued a stern warning that brewing homebrew, drinking and selling it is illegal.

Under the Penal Code, it is illegal to manufacture, consume or sell homebrew.

Those found guilty face six months in jail or a fine of $1000.

The warning comes in the wake of the death of two men and the hospitalisation of a third man after they drank homebrew laced with  chemical agent last week.

Mataiasi Tumaitoga, who was to turn 21 on April 29, and Menusi Rakoto, 33, died at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva after vomiting blood.

The third man, known only as Taniela at this stage, is recovering at the hospital.

Commissioner of Police Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho said the situation called for maturity and more responsibility.

“It is rather unfortunate what has happened to two young lives, cut short by the incident,” he said.

“Parents must take responsibility to look after their young ones. There is a lot of temptation out there and parents have a critical role to play here. People must look after each other.”

Referring to a similar incident in the early 1990s, Brigadier-General Qiliho said it involved a prominent high school in Suva.  Students mixed the drink themselves, he said

Because of immediate medical treatment, the students were under life support but survived.

He said they were lucky to have survived with the quick action of the medical team.

But it was rather sad, he said, that two lives were lost in last week’s incident.

Brigadier-General Qiliho said Police had not recorded any shift of such homemade liquor from the rural to urban centres. Previously, it used to be prevalent in the rural areas and maritime islands.

He said Vanua Levu was the only hotspot for homebrew, according to Police records.

He said the recent event could have been people trying to have a good time after a major sporting event in the weekend.

He added that Police would investigate the matter further.

Meanwhile, Mr Rakoto’s brother, Pauliasi Tawake, said his brother knew he was going to die.

Mr Tawake said he was with his brother before he died and Mr Rakoto told him he desperately wanted to see his two sons, Kasiano, 4, and Keni, 2.

When Mr Tawake took his brother to the hospital on Friday night, doctors and nurses were already attending to his friend, Mr Tumaitoga.

The two had the same symptoms – they were both spitting out blood.

They died on Saturday night. Mr Tumaitoga died at 8.50pm and Mr Rakoto passed on at 9.40pm.

One of the survivors, Paul Cokanisiga, claimed that the brew was mixed with a powerful chemical agent that was obtained from a drum marked flammable in a laboratory in Suva.

Mr Rakoto hailed from Mali in Macuata. He was fondly known as “Tovata” by his mates.

“He was spitting blood every two minutes. The doctors had said he was bleeding inside and there was nothing they could do. They could not tell what caused the bleeding, but it was not alcohol,” Mr Tawake said.

He watched helplessly as his brother spat out blood from Friday night.

“It was painful to watch. All I did was to hold the bucket for him,” Mr Tawake said.

Mr Rakoto was a builder.

He lived in Koronivia with his mother, four siblings and two sons. He was visiting a friend at Nadawa, Nasinu, when the drinking party took place.

Police spokesperson Jokatama Qio confirmed that the substance sample has been sent to the laboratory for testing.

The post-mortem examination will take place today.

Edited by Epineri Vula

Feedback:  losirene.lacanivalu@fijisun.com.fj

Related Articles