Three hundred and eighty (380) mourners, who had gathered at their grieving friend’s home at Mkusa Village in Sumbawanga Urban District, Rukwa Region escaped death narrowly after realising that water drawn from a well at the funeral venue had been poisoned.
On Sunday, July 5, the mourners convened at the homestead of renowned livestock keeper, Elias Juma, who had lost a close relative.
Juma had recently dug a well whose water was meant for domestic use, including drinking by both humans and livestock.
On Sunday, before he could give the mourners water from the well to drink, Juma filled open containers with the water and gave it to his livestock. Sixteen cows died on the spot after consuming the poisoned liquid.
Other domestic animals, including donkeys, ducks and cats also died after taking the water.
Police have since arrested Juma’s neighbour, who is alleged to have poisoned the water in the well following a land dispute pitting him (neighbour) against Juma. It is alleged Juma had taken the neighbour to court over the property conflict.
Rukwa Regional Police Commander, Justine Masejo, confirmed the incident saying two people, including the chief suspect — Juma’s neighbour — have since been arrested and will be arraigned for attempted mass murder.
“Veterinary doctors, who examined the carcasses established that the animals died after taking poisonous water. The doctors, however, said they couldn’t immediately ascertain the type of poison laced in the water,” said Masejo.
“The poisonous substance has been taken to the government chemist for further analysis,” he added.
None of the mourners had taken the water from the well before it was discovered that the liquid had been laced with poison.
Juma said, following the death of his animals, he has incurred losses amounting to millions of shillings.
“Among the 16 dead cows, are three dairy cattle, with each going for Tsh8.3 million (Ksh383, 000). The three cows alone, cost over Tsh24.9 million (Ksh1.1 million),” he said, adding: “We haven’t even factored in losses arising from the deaths of the other animals, among them donkeys and ducks.”