Victims speak out on mbanje cakes

From Walter Nyamukondiwa in KADOMA—

Eating marijuana-laced muffins that trigger bouts of hallucinations and paranoia is hardly the best way to celebrate the New Year, as several Kadoma youths found out last week.

Two of the youths, aged 17 and 22, ended up in hospital after buying the dagga-laced muffins at a tuck shop in Kadoma’s Rimuka suburb.

After eating the cakes, the 17-year-old started frothing in the mouth, while unable to stand after his joints became weak.

He was also struggling to breathe properly. His mother thought he was being attacked by “demons” and got into “combative spiritual mode”, praying against the “evil spirits”.

Unbeknown to Mrs Betty Mberi, her son had consumed a marijuana-laced cake which was now causing him to behave strangely. The boy, who cannot be named because of his age, was later taken to a pastor before being rushed to Kadoma General Hospital where he was admitted for three days.

Said Mrs Mberi: “My son started acting strangely when he came back at around 8pm on December 31. He could not walk or stand on his own. He started frothing in the mouth and I thought it was a demonic attack, so I started praying. The situation changed slightly until we thought of taking him to hospital where he was admitted.”

Another victim, Mr Ngonidzashe Mujuru, who works at a tuck shop adjacent to where the “cakes” were sold, was briefly admitted to hospital after complaining of being weak and restless.

“I just heard that there were some cakes at a tuck shop nearby and I went to buy them,” he said. “After more than 30 minutes I started feeling dizzy and strange. I became restless while feeling weak, such that I had to close the tuck shop early.”

More than 10 people bought the muffins before the peddlers were arrested, starting with the tuck shop owner Bridget Goronga (34) who then led police to Lawrence Tabwa (27).

The muffins were going for between 25 cents and 50 cents. At least eight of the muffins were recovered while stored in a fridge at Goronga’s tuck shop.

Another seven muffins stored in a lunch box were recovered at Tabwa’s workplace.

Tabwa led police to Chiratidzo Masanga, a second year student at Chinhoyi University of Technology, who then led police to Pamahuswa restaurant in the town, where the muffins were baked.

Percy Maringe was arrested together with Imran Masapo after it was established that Maringe had baked the muffins.

Maringe said he just got the ingredients which included flour, eggs, chocolate and marijuana powder and an instruction to prepare the muffins.

“I know the young man (Masanga) and I prepared the muffins for free,” he said. “I always respond to the needs of the customer on the kind of cakes they want because baking is my profession. But in this particular instance I was also caught by surprise when I smelt marijuana during preparation.”

When smoked, marijuana is absorbed into the nervous system and the residual effect last for a short time and the effect is not as severe as when it’s ingested.

In this case, five people were arrested over the matter and have since appeared before Kadoma magistrate Mr Farai Gwitima facing allegations of possessing dangerous drugs.

Goronga and Tabwa were fined $100 each or 30 days in prison after pleading guilty to the charge.

Masapa, Masanga and Maringe were remanded out of custody.

Mr Charles Muchemwa appeared for the State.

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