CAPE TOWN – Authorities confiscated ‘’alarming amounts’’ of an extremely toxic‚ fast-acting insecticide after the death of two children from one family in Samora Machel‚ Cape Town.
About two weeks ago‚ seven members of the family fell ill after sharing a meal. A toxicology report revealed that they had ingested Aldicarb‚ also known as Two Step.
Officials confiscated the poison sold by several vendors at Philippi train station‚ which is close to the family’s home‚ said mayoral committee member for safety and security‚ JP Smith.
Aldicarb is used on crops to kill pests such as thrips and aphids and also as plant-parasitic nematodes. Not only is it dangerous for people‚ agricultural land is poisoned and agricultural water runoff destroys ecosystems.
“There is an on-going problem with the sale of uncontrolled pesticides. No one should be in possession of these poisons‚ because just how toxic it can be‚” said Smith.
The small‚ granule size‚ pellet is most commonly ingested because of poor food handling.
“This poison could easily get into the wrong place. It’s not easily distinguishable‚ something someone wouldn’t immediately think is dodgy. It slips into food or water easily‚ making it a very problematic substance‚” he said.
Aldicarb and other pesticides have been prohibited since the early 2000s because of their high levels of toxicity‚ but have surfaced in recent years as a cheap alternative to safer chemicals.
“Unfortunately these illegal pesticides are available all over the place. Consumers have to make a choice between cost and what’s ethical. Efficacy comes at a cost. While these poisons are extremely cheap and sold right there on the street‚ the effects are fatal.”
After ingesting‚ the effects are almost immediate. Symptoms include tightness in the chest‚ difficulty breathing and vomiting. Smith said it is has also been used by burglars to poison guard dogs.
He also highlighted that the poisoning in Somora Machel was not the first incident caused by Aldicarb. Despite weekly operations‚ officials aim to change the city’s by-laws to increase punishments.
“We are quite concerned about this stuff‚ to the point where we have consistent operations finding and arresting dealers. We know we have to tighten up the penalties or enhance our tactics because at the moment we aren’t winning the battle‚” Smith said.
PHOTO: Pesticide confiscated by authorities in Cape Town Image: JP Smith