Food poisoning source in Soweto children deaths ‘not confirmed’
The police are investigating the deaths of two children.
The Rebopane Enterprise in Naledi, Soweto on 4 October 2023. Picture: Michel Bega/The Citizen
The Gauteng Department of Health says it remains unclear at this stage what caused the deaths of two children in Soweto.
Two children died on Sunday after allegedly consuming poisonous biscuits and juice they had bought from the foreign-owned spaza shop in Naledi.
Three others were hospitalised in order to receive medical treatment.
Giving an update on Wednesday, the Gauteng Health Department said a six-year-old girl was still in critical’ but stable condition in the ICU unit at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital.
The provincial department said another child, a four-year-old boy, was recovering well and would be discharged soon, while a three-year-old boy was recovering at home.
“The police have since taken samples for further processing. The source of the food poisoning is not confirmed subject to the police investigation,” the department said in a statement.
Gauteng Health and Wellness MEC, Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko visited the families of the deceased on Thursday to pay her respects and wished a speedy recovery to the children who were still receiving medical care.
Nkomo-Ralehoko confirmed government would assist the families with the funeral and burial arrangements.
She told eNCA the department was still awaiting its own test results.
“With regards to the hospital results, we can confirmed that one of the children [died from] organic sulfate poisoning. We haven’t yet got our results from the laboratory,” Nkomo-Ralehoko said.
The MEC said the spaza shop had been in the process of obtaining a health and safety compliance certificate when this incident occurred.
“They had applied,” she said.
Response team dispatched
The Gauteng Health Department’s outbreak response team has been deployed to Soweto following the incident.
The team spent Wednesday in Naledi and surrounding areas speaking to locals and conducting health education about food handling, preparation, storage and food safety.
They spoke about the importance of checking food expiry-date labels, hand washing before handling food and food poisoning symptoms such as cramping, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.
According to the department, compliance according to the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act and food labelling regulations, were also being checked.
The team further visited the affected families on Tuesday and Wednesday to provide support, counselling and to conduct further investigations in the households.
“The department is urging the public to visit their nearest health facilities when they present with symptoms such as: vomiting, sudden chest pains, body ache or weakness, fever or foam in the mouth.”