Probe into death by poisoned food

Sipho Masombuka

Sipho Masombuka

Police have opened an inquest docket into the death of a boy who allegedly died after eating a poisoned sandwich and chocolate bar.

Four-year-old Themba Sookoma died on arrival at Dr George Mukhari Hospital after he had eaten an acid-laced atchaar sandwich and a chocolate bar given to him by boys who stay one block away from his home.

The incident happened last month in Soshanguve, Tshwane.

"He was playing with his friend Vincent on that day. He came to me around midday and asked me for R1. I gave him the money and he said they were going to play with my neighbour's children.

"I gave him porridge and meat which he ate before he left. Twenty minutes later I heard a piercing scream from a child outside. I went out to see what was going on and I was shocked to see my son running towards me holding his stomach," said Maria Sookoma, Themba's mother.

She said: "White foam was oozing out of his mouth. He said his stomach was painful and felt as though it was being cut into pieces. I quickly took him to hospital but a doctor who examined him said he was already dead."

Themba was buried last week.

His friend Vincent said he started writhing in pain and clutched his stomach soon after eating the atchaar sandwich and the chocolate bar.

The mother of the two boys accused of giving Themba the alleged poisoned food is said to be a Mozambican traditional healer and the tragedy has made her unpopular in the area.

"I know I am the prime suspect though I was not here when this happened. I do not even know exactly who gave the child poison.

"Themba's parents have not come to me to tell me exactly what happened.

"All I hear is that my children have killed her son with poison. I do not care what people say about me because they have always said things about me. They say I am a witch, a hobo and I eat from dustbins.

"Now they are accusing me of orchestrating a death of a child. My suggestion is that we go to a sangoma so that it can be said who killed the child," she said.