Police has warned the general public against making, selling or consuming illicit substances, which are said to be hazardous to users.
The call follows an incident on Sunday when three people in Ruhuha Village of Kigali Cell, Mwendo Sector in Nyarugenge District died after consuming toxic substances.
Two of the deceased are women.
Police spokesperson for the City of Kigali, Senior Supt. Emmanuel Hitayezu identified the deceased as Immaculee Mukagasana, 52, Fortunee Manishimwe, 42, and Theoneste Niyoyita, 43.
Meanwhile, seven others who shared the same drink were rushed to the University Teaching Hospital of Kigali (CHUK) in critical condition, SSP Hitayezu said.
“The owner of the bar only identified as Nkurunziza was immediately arrested, but was later also rushed to CHUK after he started to develop symptoms; he also consumed the same substances,” SSP Hitayezu said.
“Preliminary investigations indicate that they mixed a locally made illicit brew called muriture with surgical spirit to increase its alcoholic content, which made it toxic. We are, however, waiting for the medical report to confirm these investigations,” he explained.
Surgical spirit is a denatured alcohol, typically perfumed, used for cleaning and disinfecting the skin or medical instruments before an injection or surgical operation.
It is one of the rubbing agents unsafe for human consumption as they do not contain the ethyl alcohol of alcoholic beverages; ethyl rubbing alcohols are based on denatured alcohol, which is a combination of ethyl alcohol and one or more bitter poisons that make the substance toxic.
“We call upon the general public to stop consuming these illicit substances. They are unsafe, unhygienic and poisonous to users. We also call for continued cooperation and sharing of information on people involved in distilling these toxic drinks to that they are arrested,” the spokesperson said.
All drinks with alcoholic content exceeding 45 percent as well as all those without the standard mark (S-Mark) issued by Rwanda Standards Board (RSB) are classified as narcotics.
Article 594 of the penal code stipulates in its second paragraph that, any person who, unlawfully, makes, transforms, imports, or sells narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances within the country, shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of up to five years and a fine of up to Rwf5 million.