Lydia Niita Martin (28), a resident of Oshakati’s Uupindi informal settlement, claims she ate a sausage given to her by a neighbour on 9 June, and immediately became feverish and had abdominal pains followed by diarrhoea.
Martin said she suspected she was suffering from food poisoning when a friend told her her tongue had turned yellow.
She immediately drank cooking oil and fresh milk, and threw up outside her shack.
Martin said while she was throwing up, two stray dogs started eating her vomit. She afterwards learned that one of the dogs died hours later, while the other dog became sick.
Ondangwa-based veterinarian Rauna Athingo said whether a dog dies after feeding on vomit depends on the kind of poison.
She added that the case can be complicated by the fact that the dead dog was not investigated to determine its cause of death, and its condition before it died.
“What if the dog was already dying before feeding on the vomit?” she asked rhetorically.
Meanwhile, Martin said as her condition deteriorated, she was taken to the Oshakati State Hospital, where a doctor confirmed that she had indeed consumed poison. Her medical passport, seen by The Namibian, indicates poisoning.
She was discharged a day later, but had to see the doctor again on 12, 21 and 30 June.
Initial X-ray analysis showed a damaged gullet.
“Thank God I survived and I am recovering, but I am still weak,” said Martin, who is a cashier at Oshakati.
It all started on 9 June when Martin visited her neighbour, who is a street vendor, and noticed that she was no longer using a gas stove. Upon enquiry, she was informed that the stove was broken.
Martin went home to fetch her spare stove to help her neighbour, and when she returned, the neighbour offered her a sausage as a token of appreciation.
In the Oshiwambo tradition, when offering someone food, it is customary for the person offering the meal to first take a portion and eat it in the presence of the one to whom it is being offered.
“She did not eat a piece of it, but I did not suspect anything since we are good neighbours,” Martin said.
The headman of the Uupindi informal settlement, Naeman Shikongo, said the incident was reported to him on 13 June, but formal traditional court proceedings would only start after the victim has recovered fully.
His preliminary action was to bring both the victim and the suspect together to hear both sides of the story, and to warn them not to resort to verbal or physical confrontation.
Shikongo said the suspect, whose name is known, admitted that she gave Martin the sausage, but denied that it was poisoned.
He said the suspect demanded to see Martin’s health passport for confirmation.
“She was left speechless when she read what the doctor had written. She said she bought the sausage at a nearby restaurant, adding that if it was poisoned, then someone else had done it,” Shikongo said.
“My friend Lydia faced certain death, but a dog died instead,” said Nambaxu Kambode, who took Martin to hospital and has supported her since.
The incident was also reported to the police on 14 June, but no criminal case was registered because it was being handled by the traditional court.
“It was only written in the information book for record purposes,” Martin said.