Freezits or penny cooler lovers in Harare could be risking their lives by consuming contaminated products which have found their way into the market. One contaminated brand, which was tested by Government Analyst Laboratory (GAL) and said to be unfit for human consumption, is Mr Freeze, being manufactured by Zurea Investments Pvt Ltd.
The danger came to light after Mr Sinoten Chibarirwa bought two Mr Freeze freezits from a vendor in Harare and after drinking one of them, discovered it had a bitter taste and had foreign objects.
He said the vendor tried to give him replacements, but they discovered that all of them had floating objects.
Mr Chibarirwa then took the freezits to GAL, where they were confirmed unfit for human consumption.
Zurea Investments general manager Altaf Ahmed was summoned to appear before Harare magistrate Mr Lazini Ncube over the issue.
He is being charged in his personal capacity and his company as the second accused for contravening the Food Standards Act.
The prosecutor Ms Francesca Mukumbiri opened the State’s case by calling the victim Mr Chibarirwa as the witness. He narrated to the court how Ahmed and his management wanted to compensate him with 100 more freezits so that he would sweep the matter under the carpet.
“The manager responded that my complaint was not new to their company and not dangerous,” said Mr Chibarirwa.
“He even opened the other freezit that was sealed and took a sip to convince me that the freezits were not a health hazard, but he complained as well.
“He said that the freezits could have overstayed. I requested for the freezits to be analysed by an independent laboratory in order to determine what the floating objects were and their probable consequences to health.
“The manager then called the company owner, informing him of my request to have the freezits tested at an independent and neutral laboratory. After talking to his boss, the manager turned down my request and in turn offered to give me 100 freezits, but I refused as I was worried about my health.”
Mr Chibarirwa told the court that Ahmed later arrived at the company and told him that the bitter taste could have been caused by council water or stale sugar.
He said he asked why they were not purifying the water and in response Ahmed is alleged to have said: “My friend, Zimbabwe has many problems. If you cannot take my offer for replacement, I cannot help you in any other way. You can go anywhere you want, even to the police.”
The court also heard that Ahmed tried to intimidate Mr Chibarirwa by waving a police traffic vest in his face.
Mr Chibarirwa further narrated to the court how he went to Standards Association of Zimbabwe (SAZ), who later referred him to GAL.
“I went to GAL after a week, but I was advised to bring sealed freezits and I went back to the same vendor and bought four more freezits,” he said.
“The results indicated that the freezits were unfit for human consumption.”
The trial continues on July 27.