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Delay angers victims' families

By unknown | May 23, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Getrude Makhafola

Getrude Makhafola

Families of the victims of food poisoning at a church in Bekkersdal on the West Rand in February have accused the police of not taking the case seriously.

The families want the case finalised and have complained that they have not been informed of developments in the police investigation. They have been told only that the police are waiting for the results of toxicology tests.

"I do not even know who the investigating officer is," said Veronica Mvuka, whose 73-year-old sister died after eating food that might have been poisonous.

"We appeal to the authorities to take this case seriously and tell us what killed our loved ones."

The poisoned people were guests of the Reverend Peter Tlotleng, of the African Methodist Episcopal Church at the baptism of his son, Tlotlo.

Four people died after being admitted to hospitals on the West Rand.

Tlotleng has been asked several times by the victims' families about the police's investigations.

"I have been making enquiries about the case and nothing has been forthcoming from the police. The families do not deserve this," Tlotleng told Sowetan.

Sowetan approached Westonaria police station for answers. Director PFKekana blamed the district's environmental health officials for the delay.

"Firstly, they were supposed to call the police to seal off the area because it was a crime scene.

"The police were supposed to be the ones handling the food samples and taking them to the laboratory," said Kekana.

He said the police had compiled statements and were waiting for the results of toxicology tests, which could take from three months to two years.

He said the results of the tests would have given the police a perfect start to their investigations.

The food samples were collected by environmental health official David Lesotho and a colleague, known only as Dimati.

The samples were left at the health officials' district offices overnight, according to Lesotho, and the could not be tested because they had rotted.

Westonaria municipality spokesman Dumile Sithole has appealed to the district health officials to release any information they might have relating to the case.


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