Another death at city crèche

2008-09-14 00:00

Yet another child left in the care of a day mother has died in Pietermaritzburg.

Four-year-old Luyanda Mzekandaba became the third child to die while in the care of a crèche this year. He died in Edendale Hospital’s intensive care unit on Wednesday last week after suffering brain damage from allegedly swallowing tablets prescribed to his caregiver for mental illness.

When little Luyanda’s mother, Beauty Skiti (28), took her son to the day care, she did not know it was the last time she would see him healthy and energetic. Now Skiti is mourning his death, after he allegedly swallowed more than 200 mg of Orphenadrine HCL.

The dose Luyanda swallowed is the equivalent of four or more tablets. According to Edendale Hospital spokeswoman Samke Mncube, the drugs are “dangerous”.

“The toxic dose of Orphenadrine HCL for a child of Luyanda’s weight is 200 mg [four tablets],” she said.

Skiti was at work when she received the call to tell her that her son was convulsing.

“I rushed to the daycare where I found him vomiting up a yellow substance. When I asked the day mother what happened, she told me that he had started crying and became hysterical, saying he was being chased by a beast, before he collapsed,” said Skiti.

Skiti said at the hospital, a doctor told her the child had taken a poisonous substance. The doctor later told her Luyanda had swallowed five tablets.

Luyanda allegedly swallowed the tablets at the daycare centre on Friday, September 5. The Witness established that he was with another young girl, playing near a rubbish bin behind the house where they found the tablets in a plastic bag. The girl also apparently swallowed the tablets. She was taken to hospital, but was discharged three days later after her condition improved.

Luyanda died while his mother was sitting next to his hospital bed praying for his recovery.

“I was watching him when he died. He had been unconscious since Friday [September 5]. I tried to wake him up, but he was not responding,” said Skiti, who is a domestic worker in Pelham.

The daycare mother, whose name is known to The Witness, admitted that the children took the tablets, which she dumped with other rubbish behind the house.

“I take those tablets because I am mentally ill. Since this incident I have decided to stop looking after children,” said the carer.

She said she had been taking the tablets for a while and that when she went to the clinic to collect her tablets, she would discard the old batch.

“They never told me at the clinic that the tablets were dangerous to children. I think it was irresponsible on their side,” said the woman.

The woman takes other tablets as well, which she finishes.

In an attempt to establish what poison Luyanda had taken, Skiti took a packet of Orphenadrine HCL, which had been found in a rubbish bin at the daycare, to the hospital.

“It is assumed that these could have been the drugs that were taken as the side effects are loss of consciousness and … convulsions,” said Mncube.

Skiti said that she has not yet opened a case against the child minder and had been unaware that the child minder was mentally ill.

In July, eight-month-old Saiyona Moonsamy was crushed by a vehicle driven by a crèche owner in Orient Heights.

In February, two-year-old Thando Mkhize drowned in a swimming pool at another crèche in Orient Heights.

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