Military probes poisoning

2013-07-09 00:00

THE military police are investigating a bungled poisoning attempt that caused five members of the airforce to be hospitalised.

Cases of attempted murder were opened after the members ate chocolates that were stuffed with “Two Step” poison granules during an inspection of the SA Airforce’s Ditholo nature reserve and VIP conference centre at Hammanskraal last Wednesday.

Investigators believe the chocolates were intended for someone else.

The poisoned airforce members, who include a senior lieutenant-colonel from the airforce’s environmental and catering services, were inspecting the mess room at Ditholo.

While they drank coffee, the wrapped chocolates were offered.

Shortly after eating the poisoned chocolates the victims reported a very bitter taste and all started sweating and shivering.

Their sight was also affected.

They were hospitalised while suffering from intense hallucinations, vomiting and abdominal cramps and received emergency treatment at 1 Military Hospital in Thaba Tshwane.

The hospital informed the police of the poisoning. Inspection of the remainder of the chocolates showed that someone had unwrapped the sweets, cut each one open and inserted the tiny poison granules before each of the chocolates was sealed again with a lighter chocolate.

Analysis of the poison showed it to be the insecticide aldicarb, which used to sell under the trade name Temik and has not been for sale in South Africa for several years. Also known as “Two-Step”, aldicarb is commonly used by criminals to kill dogs at private homes. The poison is said to work so fast that a dog can take only two steps before dying.

The journal for the SA Veterinary Association estimates that at least 60 % of the aldicarb-containing pesticides used in South Africa are smuggled across the border from neighbouring countries such as Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

The airforce members were discharged over the weekend, but are reportedly still disorientated and suffering from nausea.

Yesterday, no one had been arrested in connection with the poisoning.

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