School lunch kills pupil - 91 children rushed to hospital in poison scare

DECEASED: Ditiro Khoni
DECEASED: Ditiro Khoni

A NORTH WEST school has been temporarily shut down after a child died from suspected food poisoning and 91 others were hospitalised.

According to the provincial department of education, Koster Intermediate School "will remain closed until the department determines what the cause was of the suspected food poisoning".

Spokesman Brian Setswambung confirmed that 91 pupils were taken to hospital.

He said food samples and water from the school were taken for laboratory tests.

The mother of the four-year-old boy who died after eating the samp and beans meal that was cooked at the school said she was angry at herself because she brought the food leftovers home.

Ditiro Khoni from Reagile township in Koster died on Saturday night after severe diarrhoea.

On Friday Ditiro, his six siblings and his grandmother ate the food his mother Maria Khoni had brought from the school.

His mother is employed to cook meals for pupils at the school.

Setswambung said the department provides the school with money to buy groceries.

Khoni said on that day she served over 100 pupils, who later complained of headaches, stomach cramps, diarrhoea and vomiting.

"I am confused and sad. I always take leftovers home after we feed the pupils. I never thought the food would kill my son," she said.

Khoni said her other three children, her sister's three children and her mother were also admitted to hospital after they complained of diarrhoea and vomiting.

They all became ill after eating the leftovers.

"I cannot explain how I feel. He was my son. I gave him that food and now the same food killed him," she sighed.

Khoni said she did not want to blame anyone for the incident.

The mother of one pupil who became ill said she usually gave her daughter a lunch box, but her daughter had decided to share lunch with another pupil.

"I told her not to eat food from the school, ever," said Julia Lemao.

A fortnight ago Sowetan reported that a Limpopo department of education investigation had found food meant for pupils at a rural school contained pieces of glass and stones.

The department launched an investigation after pupils in Sekhukhune, Limpopo, were hospitalised after consuming food from the programme last month.

On September 25, two pupils found pieces of glass and small stones in their beans.

At least 238 pupils were admitted to hospital for medical checkups.

 

tshehleb@sowetan.co.za

 

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