Deadly brew: Teen mourns his buddies
‘I feel terrible, but my friend’s dead’
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.