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Kenya cracks down on illicit brew that kills 7,000 in 4 years

15 July 2015, 22:11

Nairobi - The Kenyan government has claimed to intensify the fight against illicitly brewed alcohol which is said to have killed more than 7,000 people in the country over the past four years.

"In the last four years, over 7,000 people have been killed by the harmful drinks while thousands more have been crippled, maimed, rendered blind or reduced to hopeless alcoholics," Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery told journalists on Tuesday.

Illegally brewed alcohol is popular among Kenyans who cannot afford commercial alcohol. Traditionally, its ingredients range from fermented corn and sorghum to juice from coconut and sugarcane.

Medical reports show that methanol poisoning has caused the fatalities.

In a recent crackdown on the illicit brew, 99 local chiefs have been dismissed while 15 police officers including 12 police commanders are facing disciplinary action for "abetting manufacturing and consumption" of the alcohol, Nkaissery said.

Fifteen million litres of illicit brew have been destroyed, close to 20,000 suspects arrested and hundreds of illegal bars shut in the last two weeks nationwide, he said.

"The campaign will continue throughout the country until the menace is brought to an end," he added.

Married women in central Kenya where the illicit brew is widespread have held demonstrations asking the government to take action. Some of them have attacked places where the alcohol is sold, complaining their husbands and sons "spend all their time and money there".

Nkaissery revealed that there are police officers addicted to the brew, and some were found drunk while on duty.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has accused the illegal alcohol and ordered the crackdown.

However, analysts say that, despite the drive, illicit brew is still being manufactured and consumed in remote areas of the country and in slums.

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- Xinhua


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