Like everywhere else a lot of urban households struggle with pests like cockroaches, house flies and rats in Zimbabwe.. One solution that has cropped up in the past five years or so is the so-called piritsi regonzo [literally rat pill]. This has been used by a lot of households as the ultimate solution to their pest problem but the aluminium phosphide pill is not meant to be a rat pill or for household use at all. The packaging comes with a purple triangle which means that the poison can kill or harm you if inhaled, touched by bare hands or ingested. It is a fact that most people seem blissfully unaware of. The government has however warned members of the public to stay away from the pill.

We are talking of a restricted fumigant here. This means it should be used only by trained applicators, and should never be used inside homes, near human or animal habitation.

It is restricted for use where bulk storage of cereals is done, like at Grain Marketing Board (GMB) silos.

Dumisani Kutywayo an expert from the MInistry of Agriculture

The pill is used for crop fumigation and usually finds its way to ordinary people via the tobacco sector. Sometimes tobacco farmers have to fumigate their baled crops and they do so using the pill. Even in these cases, the farmers are warned to use protective equipment as the pill can cause irreparable damage to vital organs such as the liver, kidneys and of course lungs. If too much of the fumigant is inhaled or accidentally consumed it will lead to instant death.

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