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Beer possibly poisoned with crocodile bile kills 67 in Mozambique

Hospital sources said the traditional beer made from maize may have been poisoned with crocodile bile* + **.

Guests at a funeral started getting sick at a local bar after the ceremony in Chitima in central Cahora Bassa district early on Saturday.

The fatalities included the bar owner, who had brewed the beer, her two children, and a local official. More than 100 people remained in treatment at a local hospital.

Most of those killed also remained at the hospital as the morgue in Cahora Bassa only had the capacity for two bodies.

Health Minister Alexandre Manguele said victims’ blood and samples of the contaminated beer had been sent to the capital Maputo for testing.

Mozambique was considering asking South Africa to help determine the cause of the deaths, officials said.


* According to this book reference:

African Ethnobotany: Poisons and Drugs : Chemistry, Pharmacology, Toxicology, by Hans Dieter Neuwinger, crocodile bile is used as an additive to poisons placed on hunting arrows. “It is widely believed that bile from the gall bladder of a crocodile is very poisonous. Thus in several African countries, it is added to beer or porridge of an unsuspecting person, the victim is supposed to die with 24 hours. Recent investigations in Zimbabwe showed no signs of toxicity in mice and monkeys which where given soutions orally with bile material.”

**Apparently, it is widely known amongst Korogwe residents of Tanzania, that crocodile bile is a poison. Here is an excerpt from the British Medical Journal describing crocodiles in Tanzania…
“Finally, if one is successful in hunting it is essential to bury the crocodile’s bile in front of witnesses to avoid the possibility that others might use it as a poison.”