Deadly brew: Teen mourns his bud­dies

‘I feel ter­ri­ble, but my friend’s dead’

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - ME­LANIE PETERS

WHAT three teenage friends thought would be harm­less fun ex­per­i­ment­ing with al­co­hol turned into a night­mare, leav­ing one dead and the other two hos­pi­talised.

On Tues­day night Bam­bol­wethu Mban­gatha, 15, of Khayelit­sha Site B, be­came the lat­est ca­su­alty in a “toxic booze” tragedy that has rocked his com­mu­nity. He is the youngest of six who have so far died from drink­ing what they thought was “brandy” last week­end.

The liq­uid is sus­pected to have been in­dus­trial al­co­hol, al­legedly dis­trib­uted last week­end by two se­cu­rity guards who also died af­ter drink­ing it.

Po­lice spokesman Se­nior Su­per­in­ten­dent Billy Jones said po­lice had opened an in­quest. Yes­ter­day the po­lice es­tab­lished that the two se­cu­rity guards were sta­tioned at the ship­yard in the dry dock. They were still await­ing the post-mortem re­sults from the pro­vin­cial health depart­ment.

The vic­tims dis­played var­i­ous signs of se­vere al­co­hol poi­son­ing, in­clud­ing blind­ness, se­vere stom­ach cramps, vom­it­ing and paral­y­sis.

Com­mu­nity mem­bers said the deadly brew was brought by se­cu­rity guards “Cardo” Langa and Thobani Jonas in a 5 litre con­tainer. Some of the brew was sold to the teenagers as a “nip” (a small bot­tle of al­co­hol) for R2. Langa and Jonas also later died.

Bam­bol­wethu’s mother, Noku­zola Mban­gatha, said she was “heart­bro­ken and still in shock”. She had had great dreams for her sec­ond youngest child, one of five.

“I thought he would ma­tric­u­late and be­come a priest,” she said. Bam­bol­wethu was in Grade 10 at Matthew Goniwe Memo­rial High and he loved soc­cer.

She said that Bam­bol­wethu was out drink­ing with his friends last Fri­day night. “He came home and was vom­it­ing the whole of Satur­day. His vomit was a black sub­stance mixed with blood. I got wor­ried when he could not get up on Sun­day.”

He was rushed to Site B hospi­tal and trans­ferred to Groote Schuur Hospi­tal where he later died. “I don’t un­der­stand how this hap­pened. No one seems to have any an­swers. When we went to the po­lice they told us to bring the ‘bot­tle of poi­son’.”

He will be buried in the East­ern Cape on Fri­day.

Around the cor­ner Bam­bol­wethu’s friend, Luzukho Mx­eg­wana, 17, sat out­side his home looking very sorry for him­self. Barely able to speak, he is still ill from the rev­elry last Fri­day night. He can’t be­lieve he is still alive.

“I’m feel­ing ter­ri­ble, not only be­cause I’m still sick but my friend is dead. It was just three of us that shared the nip. We bought it from one of the guys who is dead. We didn’t know this would hap­pen.

“It made me very sick and I got drunk very quickly.”

He man­aged to stag­ger home, passed out and when he got up the next morn­ing he could not stop vom­it­ing. He went to Site B Hospi­tal and was trans­ferred to Groote Schuur.

Luzukho said he “would never drink again”.

The grand­fa­ther of the third teenager said he did not want him­self or his grand­son to be named. He de­manded that the po­lice find an­swers.

“Some­one must be held re­spon­si­ble for this. The po­lice must find out how se­cu­rity guards could walk off from their work­place with this poi­son. Now six peo­ple are dead. Even though my grand­son is no longer in hospi­tal and is in school to­day he has been com­plain­ing about his eye­sight.”

Langa re­port­edly shared the drink with sev­eral oth­ers who have sub­se­quently died. They in­clude Phal­izile Msolo, 57, and Thandilizwe Sig­wintha, 32. They also com­plained of go­ing blind be­fore they died.

Mbuy­isile No­qwaza, 32, died on Wed­nes­day morn­ing and the other se­cu­rity guard, Jonas, 38, died on Sun­day.

Health depart­ment spokesman Mark van den Heever con­firmed that a post-mortem was be­ing con­ducted on Sig­wintha and the depart­ment was also wait­ing for the cause of death of two of the other men.

TRAGIC: Phal­izile Msolo, 57, died soon af­ter drink­ing

BAD BOOZE: Thandilizwe Sig­wintha, 32

TEEN DEAD: Bam­bol­wethu Mban­gatha, 15


SUR­VIVOR: Teenager Luzukho Mx­eg­wana, 17


A MOTHER’S PAIN: Noku­zola Mban­gatha is mourn­ing the death of her 15-year-old son Bam­bol­wethu Mban­gatha.

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