Keegan Mwelwa, 37, a father with four children worked for Southern Africa Ferro Alloys Limited (SAFAL) for close to eight years as a batcher. He was the first employee to be diagnosed with the disease in November 2021.

According to a medical report from the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) accessed by MakanDay, Mwelwa’s manganism is due to “toxic accumulation and deposition of manganese in the body tissues, primarily the brain, because of high exposure from external sources”.

Because Mwelwa is in a state where he is unable to speak, his wife, Yvonne Kunda, a vegetable trader, told MakanDay that her husband’s health condition has led to loss of memory, slowness in movement and speech, and continuous shaking.

Although SAFAL, confirmed the presence of the disease among 18 of its workers, it however denied it was as a result of exposure to manganese.

Plant manager Bijeesh Mangara Vijayan, told MakanDay that the company is doing everything possible, including carrying out investigations with the help of UTH, to establish what the workers are suffering from.

He said as a company, they started receiving reports of the disease from the workers in September 2022.

“The affected workers are those working inside the plant. UTH is carrying out investigations to ascertain what the problem is,” he said.

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