Two die, 26 recovering after feasting at baptism ceremony

Getrude Makhafola

Getrude Makhafola

Two people have died and at least 26 others are still recovering from food poisoning incurred at a church 10 days ago.

Esther Makhele, 61, says she is lucky to be alive. She was admitted into the intensive care unit at Leratong Hospital two days after the feast. She went back to the hospital yesterday because she "was feeling terrible again".

She was one of about 80 guests invited by the Reverend Peter Tlotle of the AME Church to the baptism of his four-year-old son, Tlotli, in Bekkersdaal near Westonaria, on February 4.

She was discharged last Wednesday after the feast on February 4. Twenty eight other people were treated at Leratong.

A nurse at the hospital said: "They were in bad shape."

Ten-year-old Lindi Ndlovu complained of stomach cramps before she was taken to hospital by ambulance on Monday night. She died in the early hours of Tuesday morning. She was buried on Saturday.

The other deceased, only known as Buti, will be buried in the township today.

His decomposing body was found in his shack after neighbours detected a funny smell.

Tlotle yesterday said: "It was a joyous day, food was prepared and people enjoyed the meal. There was nothing wrong until people began to fall sick."

The meal consisted of samp, red meat and a variety of salads.

Tlotle said he would hold a meeting with the church women who prepared the food to try to find out what had really gone wrong.

He said he would hold a joint prayer service tomorrow together with the Reverend Moses Gabalebatse of the nearby Methodist church.

Another survivor, Bob Ntsoelengoe of Mohlakeng township in Randfontein, said he was also lucky to be alive.

A 71-year-old fitness fanatic, Ntsoelengoe's face was swollen and he still had sores around his mouth yesterday.

"I have lost weight and I'm still very weak," he said.

According to Tlotle, the police never took a statement from him. Nor did they take any from the families of the deceased.

The regional Health Department took the food samples to the National Health Laboratory Services for further testing.