Photos of the late Bernice Nantanda Wamala
A 45-year-old Kenyan man has been charged in Canada for allegedly poisoning two children. Francis Ngugi is accused of poisoning three-year-old Bernice Nantanda Wamala and her best friend in Scarborough, Toronto on March 7th this year.
Bernice died a few hours later while undergoing treatment while her three-year-old friend survived, but remained in the hospital for a while.
The Toronto Sun reports that Ngugi is a former boyfriend of the surviving toddler’s mother. The two reportedly broke up the month before the two girls were poisoned, but remained friends.
Toronto police say Ngugi accessed a controlled substance from his work and put it into a package of Golden Morn cereal, which the two girls took for breakfast on the morning of March 7th after their sleepover at the surviving child’s house. “Both children required hospitalization. One of the children, due to the consumption of the cereal, died in hospital. The other child recovered after a lengthy hospital stay,” Detective Matthew Wighton of 41 Division said in a statement on Monday.
A months-long probe by police and the Ontario Coroner’s Office culminated in the arrest of Ngugi on Sunday after it was established that the cereal the girls ate was deliberately contaminated.
The Kenyan national was charged with two counts each of administering a noxious substance to endanger life and unlawfully causing bodily harm, and one count of criminal negligence causing death. Ngugi remains in custody awaiting a bail hearing.
The controlled substance was found to be nitrite, which is used as a preservative in cured meats and other foods. Overexposure to nitrites can lead to methemoglobinemia, a condition in which the body is deprived of oxygen.
Bernice lived with her mother Maurine Mirembe, who is of Ugandan origin, in the same building she had a sleepover on March 6th.
“She was healthy, happy, and dancing on Saturday, then the next day she’s gone,” Mirembe told the Toronto Sun.