Banana sales in Mozambican capital Maputo have taken a serious hit as a result of email and text message warnings of the dire consequences of contact with killer plantains.
In response to a hoax alert that bananas imported from KwaZulu-Natal province in neighbouring South Africa were carrying the necrotizing fasciitis bacterium, "panic-striken" consumers have been avoiding the flesh-eating fruit like the plague.
The messages advised people not to touch bananas for the next three weeks, and to seek medical help if they were foolish enough to tuck in and developed a fever as a result. They also suggested "burning the skin around the supposed infection", according to this report.
The Mozambican government was obliged last week to assure citizens "there is no record of the entry of any infected bananas into the country”, although this hasn't much helped Maputo banana wholesaler Horacio Simbine.
He can't shift produce from his warehouse, even though his bananas are grown locally. In fact, Mozambique hasn't imported bananas from South Africa for a decade, he insisted. ®