Tainted food: 275 pupils taken to hos­pi­tal

Shards of glass found in meals eaten by the kids has provin­cial gov­ern­ment in a panic

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - MOLOKO MOLOTO moloko.moloto@inl.co.za

ABOUT 275 pupils at Makeke Pri­mary School in Lim­popo were taken to hos­pi­tal on Mon­day after they ate food that con­tained pieces of glass.

This has brought to more than 1 000 the num­ber of pupils in the prov­ince sus­pected to have eaten food that had glass in it in re­cent weeks, ac­cord­ing to im­pec­ca­ble sources with knowl­edge of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The af­fected schools are in the Sekhukhune dis­trict.

The provin­cial Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion has con­tracted com­pa­nies that sup­ply mainly no-fee schools in the prov­ince with food.

On Mon­day, pupils at Makeke Pri­mary School in Lukau vil­lage started vom­it­ing and com­plain­ing of ab­dom­i­nal pain after eat­ing por­ridge and beans.

Peter Mok­ganyetjie, the chair­man of the school gov­ern­ing body, said his two chil­dren were among the pupils taken to hos­pi­tal. “When I came here, the prin­ci­pal showed me pieces of glass that were found in the meals. An am­bu­lance first took 10 chil­dren; it came back for more.

Even­tu­ally, a bus was sent to take the chil­dren to hos­pi­tal be­cause they were so many of them,” he said.

A 12-year-old Grade 7 school­girl was among those who ate the con­tam­i­nated food.

“After eat­ing the food, I started to feel heat in my stom­ach. It was painful,” said the pupil, whose name The Star is with­hold­ing for le­gal rea­sons.

“Other pupils were also rolling on the floor in pain. Some were vom­it­ing,” she said.

Although the pupil did not see pieces of glass in her food on Mon­day, she said she had seen “black things” in her food last Tues­day.

“We were eat­ing fish and rice that day. Our teacher took some of them out of the dishes and put them in a plas­tic bag,” the pupil said.

A 10-year-old pupil said he no longer trusted food from the school. “I will never eat this food again,” he said.

Lim­popo Premier Stan Matha­batha, who vis­ited the school yes­ter­day, said the provin­cial gov­ern­ment was be­gin­ning to panic after Mon­day’s in­ci­dent.

He said the prov­ince was con­sid­er­ing sus­pend­ing all food nu­tri­tion ten­ders across the prov­ince while it in­ves­ti­gated.

“But that is still sub­ject to con­fir­ma­tion… This depart­ment is one of the de­part­ments un­der ad­min­is­tra­tion, so we can­not take the decision as the prov­ince; we still need to get con­cur­rence from na­tional gov­ern­ment,” he said

Matha­batha re­fused to di­vulge the names of the con­tracted com­pa­nies im­pli­cated.

The lat­est in­ci­dent comes after more than 100 other pupils at a sep­a­rate school, Kwena Chuene Pri­mary, were treated in hos­pi­tal after they ate food that had glass in it last week.

PIC­TURE: MOLOKO MOLOTO

WARY: Pupils at Makeke Pri­mary School in Lukau vil­lage in Lim­popo, where their fel­low class­mates were treated in hos­pi­tal after eat­ing food that con­tained pieces of glass.

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