A couple died after drinking homemade beer to get around strict coronavirus lockdown restrictions on alcohol.
Tony Hilliar, 54, and Alida Fouche, 42, had run out of their own supplies of alcohol when they opted to make a batch of home brewed beer in the Port Nolloth home in South Africa.
The country has imposed strict restrictions on the sale of alcohol since going into lockdown a number of weeks ago.
It is believed both collapsed at their home after drinking a bottle of the brew each.
Estate agent Tony made a desperate call for help, but when emergency services arrived on scene, he was writhing in agony on the floor while his wife Alida had already passed away.
He was rushed to hospital but died and police investigators sent two empty bottles of home brew beer for forensic testing fearing that they died from alcohol poisoning.
The rest of the batch which had not been drunk was also seized and taken away for laboratory testing.
Close pal Tommy Cockcroft, 52, said: “They both liked a drink at the end of the day which is typically South African but thanks to this poorly thought out government ban there is no alcohol.
“Everyone is making their own beer so Tony did as well but it seems something went terribly wrong with the brew and that they both collapsed and died very senseless deaths.
“This alcohol ban is just beyond total belief and there is no sense whatsoever in it and the sooner people are treated like grown ups the better,” he said.
Pastor Bertus de Jager who knew the couple well said: “They were very much in love and you would always see them around the town or on the beach hand in hand together.
“They were lovely people and had been together about six years and were engaged to be married two years ago. This is so so tragic,” he said.
South African Police spokesperson Brigadier Mohale Ramatseba confirmed that Alida was found dead at the flat and that her partner died in intensive care in the local hospital several days later.
He said: “A 42-year-old woman was found dead in a flat and 54-year-old man was found in extreme pain and subsequently died in hospital and an inquest docket has been opened for both.
“Two empty bottles of homemade brew have been seized for forensic tests,” he said.
Ban on Sale, Purchase or Transportation of Alcohol Ongoing
South Africa went into COVID-19 lockdown six weeks ago on March 26th and among the many restrictions was the total ban on the sale or purchase or transportation of alcohol.
Now there is growing anger among the population of 58 million at the ban on alcohol sales after President Cyril Ramaphosa said it would only last 3 weeks but has been rolled over twice.
He has also banned the sale or purchase of cigarettes nationwide as part of his super strict coronavirus lockdown which only a week ago allowed people to exercise within 5 km of their homes.
The production of home brewed alcoholic pineapple beer has gone through the roof with 10 times as many pineapples now being bought than when the booze ban was brought in.
Google announced that “how to brew homemade alcohol” was among their top internet searches in South Africa and it is almost impossible due to demand to find brewing yeast in supermarkets.
President Ramaphosa however is refusing all calls to relax the hugely unpopular alcohol or cigarette bans despite the colossal loss to the struggling country in taxation revenue.
Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said earlier this week: “I don’t like the ban on alcohol and tobacco. I lost the debate in Cabinet and therefore I must toe the line or I must leave the Cabinet.”
Parliament’s Finance & Appropriation Committee was also told that the tax lost by the alcohol ban for just April alone was the equivalent of $36.2 million for beer, $16.2 million for wine and $21.6 million for spirits.
That does not include 13 days of lockdown outside April and with no end in sight of the ban being lifted there is growing anger among the population at off-licenses remaining closed.
The South African Liquor Brandowners Association called for the ban to be lifted stating that the revenue loss to the nation was enormous and that the industry was deeply affected.
It said that South Africa along with Panama and Sri Lanka were the only three countries in the world where all forms of alcohol sales to the population were still strictly prohibited by law.