- The youths drank sanitiser distributed in shopping centres by county and national governments.
- They said they could not live without alcohol yet there were no other alternatives as bars were closed.
Five young men from Mathioya subcounty in Murang’a have pleaded with the government not to arrest them after consuming hand sanitiser.
The youths confessed that they had been consuming the hand cleaning solution because they could not buy alcohol after bars were closed.
Murang’a county government ordered the closure of all bars mid-March to stem the spread of coronavirus.
The youths said the alcohol smell of the sanitiser was too tempting and they could not resist a gulp.
Daniel Gatundu said he had been drinking the sanitiser distributed by the national and county governments in public hand washing points. From there, he said, he got a constant supply of the solution to quench his thirst for alcohol.
He said he discreetly put the sanitiser in a water bottle to disguise it and consumed it until he got drunk.
When it became public that he was consuming the chemical solution, Gatundu was arrested and discharged on bond.
“I have been taking sanitiser because I cannot live without alcohol and there were no alternatives,” he said.
But sanitiser could cause side effects far worse than alcohol, according to doctor Charles Mwangi.
Mwangi who runs a clinic in Mukuyu said hand sanitiser has a high percentage of alcohol to kill germs.
“While most alcoholic drinks have alcoholic content of about 40 per cent, sanitiser can have much higher percentages,” he said.
He said continued consumption of the solution could trigger illnesses associated with alcoholism.
He said he had taken samples from the five youths to establish the extent of damage the sanitiser had caused their bodies.
Ahadi Kenya CEO Stanley Kamau offered to rehabilitate the youths.
He gave them 10 chickens and avocado seedlings to empower them financially. They also received shoes, food and face masks.
Kamau said in a few years the youths will become an example to others suffering from drugs and alcohol addiction.
“After a few months, I will bring them together in a group and use them in my charitable activities. They will go around the constituency identifying the most vulnerable families that require assistance,” he said.
He pointed out there could be many youths consuming sanitiser countrywide, saying they require rehabilitation and not arrest.
“Alcoholism is a disease and most of these youths are suffering from withdrawal syndrome. I am asking the police to dismiss charges against one of these youths they had arrested so that he can be rehabilitated,” Kamau said.
Kamau also asked the government and leaders to prioritise relief food to the needy.
He said most efforts have been concentrated on issuance of face masks, sanitiser and soaps yet families were suffering from hunger.
He asked the government to conduct regular alcohol and drugs tests on administrators.
Kamau said this after videos of a drunk Kiambu administrator did rounds on the social media.
“We cannot have lawless people put in charge of enforcing the law. These are the people entrusted with implementing coronavisus guidelines. The government’s efforts may not bear fruit if they set a bad example to youths,” he said.
Edited by Henry Makori