Thieves who broke into a mortuary in South Africa during the country’s nationwide alcohol sales ban are feared to have stolen litres of exhumation fluid to consume.
SA is into its seventh week of coronavirus lockdown and one of the most controversial restrictions has been the total prohibition of buying or selling any type of alcohol. (This has kept hospital beds empty of those who are usually admitted with alcohol-related injuries, says the government.)
Some South Africans have taken up home brewing, stripping supermarkets of pineapples in their tens of thousands a day, to make a potent tropical beer.
But in the latest twist it would seem desperate drinkers forced their way into the Rest in Peace Funeral Parlour in Clocolan in the Free State Province and stole four gallons of the 97% proof exhumation liquid which was contained in two 2kg bottles. The liquid is usually used to preserve body parts if bodies need to be dug up.
Police spokesperson Brigadier Motansi Makhele said the burglars had broken down the roller blinds of the mortuary to gain entrance, and had then broken into a steel cabinet.
It appears they were targeting the exhumation liquid which was securely locked away. They also stole embalming powder and the mortuary first aid kit.
Brigadier Makehele said: “Exhumation liquid is 97% alcohol and preserves body parts if the remains of a deceased person are dug up from the grave for further investigation.
“It also helps to prevent the body from smelling and prevents infections to humans. We do not know for sure what the purpose of the theft of the liquid actually was yet.
“A case of business burglary is being investigated and no-one has been arrested yet.”
A Forensic Officer with the SA Government Mortuary Department said: “If the thieves drink that liquid without watering it right down then they will drop dead themselves!
“The liquid would make a very good sanitiser as it is nearly 100% proof but as for drinking it then they would end up alongside those already in the funeral parlour,” she said.
A South African Police source said: “There does not seem to be any other logical reason for the thieves stealing this liquid unless they thought they could get drunk on it.
“It is rocket fuel without a doubt at 97% proof, and if they do have a party with it one thing is for sure they will wake up with one hell of a hangover!” he said.
Nobody was available for comment at the Rest in Peace Funeral Parlour today.
Last week a Port Nolloth couple tragically died after drinking a batch of home-brew they had made themselves to get round the alcohol ban.
Estate agent Tony Hilliar, 54, and Alida Fouche, 42, collapsed at their home in the Northern Cape Province.
Fouche, a secretary, was declared deceased on the scene; and her fiance Hilliar passed away two days later in hospital.
Police investigators sent two empty bottles of home brew beer they had downed for forensic testing fearing that they died from a form of alcohol poisoning.
The rest of the batch, which had not been drunk, was also taken away for laboratory testing.
South Africa went into Covid-19 lockdown on March 26 and one of the strictest restrictions has been the total ban on the sale or purchase of any type of alcohol. The country is currently under Level 4 restrictions. At Level 3, South Africans will reportedly be able to purchase alcohol from Mondays to Wednesdays from 08h00 to 12h00.