An 11-year-old boy has died after drinking beer at an under-14 drinking contest in Malawi.

The child, known as a “keen drinker”, reportedly drank five bottles of Kachashu, an unlicensed traditional distilled beer which was even used as hand sanitiser by locals. He suddenly dropped dead as shocked onlookers watched the competition in the town of Mzimba, in a northern Malawi district. Friends of the unnamed boy claimed he collapsed in the finals of the drinking contest.

The beer-drinking contest had a prize of MWK 20,000 MWK (£20.50) for the winner. The competition was reportedly organised in three categories, under-14, under-21 and seniors. A bystander, Emmanuel Chirwa, expressed suspicions of foul play because the boy who died was the defending champion.

Chirwa said: “He was not just an amateur boozer.”

According to Chirwa, contestants pay 1000 MWK (1 GBP) to enter the competition and the only rule is that they must eat something beforehand.

“So, he did not die because he did not eat before beginning the contest. They all ate before the contest. Something went wrong,” Chirwa said.

Local child protection officer, Shanks Nkhata said he is following up on the issue and would appeal to the local chiefs to try and ban the brewing of the illicit beer.

“We hear the child was in Standard 7 at Kafulufulu Primary and with schools on a Corona (Covid-19) break, he turned into an avid drunkard,” Nkhata disclosed.