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Cameroon: Bonaberi - Man Dies after Stealing Palm Wine

The wine was tainted with excess of filarial drug which ruffled the culprit with unbearable itches.

A 44 year old man died at the Bonaberi neighbourhood in Douala last Saturday after consuming poisoned palm wine. Mr. Joshua, alias Richman, who produces spears for a living, is said to have gulped several litres of the locally distilled stuff, churned with excessive quantity of notoxine tablets, once used to treat filarial. Tapers at the Misele locality are said to have been severely strained by Joshua who regularly emptied the content of their calabashes before the first cock crew.

A hue and cry had been raised about the invisible bandit who strode from one palm stem to another, emptying the contents of the bamboo containers. Some had attributed the act to heirs and black mambas, animals said to nourish untamed appetite for palm wine. A band of hunters and trappers were co-opted to damage the culprits. But neither snakes nor heirs entangled. Rather, stray rats and mice were victimized. The tapers mounted an all-night-anti-gang squad, which Joshua was member. No thief was spotted.

Last Friday, one of the tapers, who had lost more than four jugs within a month, took a dramatic option. He stuffed his calabashes with notoxine, an aged-old filarial drug, capable of rendering humans idiotic with pitiless itches. As usual, Joshua had tiptoed towards the palm bushes before 4am. He gulped the content of the first calabashes to breakfast. Then, he moved from one palm stem to another, pouring the stuff into a 20-litre flagon. By 5 am, the hour the wine owners head for their estates, Joshua was on his way to Souza, where he habitually sold the booty.

Last Saturday was the day of reckoning. Hardly did Joshua reach home before a shower of excruciating itches gripped him. The agony started between his legs. The man thought a fleet of red ants had attacked his anus. He instinctively undid his trousers, clutched his teeth and tore his anus with his thumb. The epidemic multiplied from his back to neck. Joshua clang on a nearby pillar and savagely polished his back against the rugged sandy stump. Then, the catastrophe swelled. Joshua ran helter-skelter, beckoning his wife for help. At one moment he strove to peel his eyes. At the other he aimed to slash his ears, then to tear his hairs. A seismic wave of diarrhoea made things worse. Joshua defecated and vomited on his breeches. His wife determinedly scoured his legs and buttocks with stones and bamboo blades. But the itches splashed. Joshua could not resist. He confessed and died before reaching the hospital.

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