MYSTERY surrounds the death of a boy (13) from Bulawayo who allegedly finished an undiluted 750ml bottle of brandy in less than an hour.
The brandy has an alcohol percentage of 43 percent compared to ordinary beer that has between three and seven percent alcohol content.
Sources alleged that Clayton Mhlanga of Entumbane suburb was forced to drink the alcohol by his older friends, but a statement given to the police suggests that he guzzled the liquor alone in their car while his friends were watching soccer at Barbourfields Stadium on Saturday.
He died on Sunday from suspected alcohol poisoning.
The group had gone to watch the Chibuku Cup final pitting Highlanders and Ngezi Platinum Stars.
Family members said Clayton’s hands and tongue turned black as he lay comatose at home.
He was expected to be buried at Athlone Extension Cemetery on Thursday.
Clayton’s older friends Mthunzi Malaba (22), Thobani Ncube and Likhwa Dube — all from the same suburb — have allegedly disappeared.
They told police that they had left the boy in their car while they watched the Chibuku Cup final which Highlanders won 1-0.
They also claimed that when they returned, they found the boy had downed the brandy and was in a semi-conscious state.
Bulawayo police spokesperson Chief Inspector Precious Simango confirmed the incident.
“On November 30 at around 2PM, the deceased went to Barbourfields Stadium to watch the match with his friends. The now deceased was left guarding the car. After the match, the three friends returned and realised that the now deceased had consumed undiluted alcohol which they had left in the car,” she said.
Chief Insp Simango said the friends took Clayton to his parents’ house at around 10PM and handed him over to his stepfather Mr Emmanuel Sibanda.
“Sibanda tried to talk to the now deceased and he was not responding. He sprinkled some water on him but he did not respond and he later laid him on his bed,” she said.
On December 1, the boy’s health had seriously deteriorated.
“His father gave him some porridge and water. After consumption he vomited everything and his condition seriously deteriorated. At around 3PM he showed no signs of life,” said Chief Insp Simango.
Clayton’s grandmother, who declined to be named, said the family did not know what happened to him.
“We cannot tell you anything pertaining to the death of our son. We are being told that he drank ‘hot stuff’,” she said.
The granny said what remains mysterious is that his tongue and hands had turned black.
“The post-mortem results said his kidneys were swollen, his tummy was full of water and some drops of alcohol were also found in the tummy. So, if it is alcohol that caused his death then why has his tongue and hands turned black. We suspect that there might be foul play by his friends,” she said.