Parents demand answers after 171 sick pupils rushed to hospital

2019-03-06 06:02

PARENTS of pupils who attend Sombongangani Primary School in Elandskop say they want knowledge of the events that led to their children becoming sick and being admitted in hospital.

A total of 171 pupils were rushed to Edendale Hospital, Northdale, and Grey’s Hospital on Monday afternoon after they started vomiting and feeling weak after allegedly eating amasi (maas) that was given to them by the school through the school feeding scheme. However, Department of Health spokesperson in KwaZulu-Natal Ncumisa Mafunda said only two pupils were admitted, one in Edendale Hospital and one in Grey’s Hospital.

“They are both in a stable condition and the one in Grey’s hospital is ready to be discharged. The District’s Communicable Disease section, together with the local environmental health office, is looking into the matter,” she said.

Echo sources said the pupils ate the amasi at 10am, during their morning break, but they were only taken to hospital after 2pm when the school was closing for the day.

One of the parents, who requested anonymity, said her six-year-old daughter, who is in Grade 1, was fine when she left home that morning but she came back ill.

“When she came back from school she was vomiting and she was hot, as if she had a fever. I asked her what happened and she told me that she ate amasi at school and every child that ate it fell sick. They [children] were taken to different hospitals by ambulances. I took her to the local clinic and when I got there I found other children from the same school visiting the clinic.

“We were told that the ambulances will come to fetch them but the ambulances never came. My child was given treatment then sent back home.

“This is worrying because we send our children to school to get an education and we trust that they are in the good hands but then something like this happens. My child did not go back to school on Tuesday because shewas still recovering due to the trauma and she is still very young. We want to know what happened and what is the cause of this illness,” she said.

Another parent said her seven-year-old son also came home from school vomiting.

“We took him to the local clinic but he was transferred to Northdale Hospital because Edendale hospital was full. He was brought back home at around 1am on Tuesday. When he was transferred to the hospital we were so scared because we did not know what to expect. We want a report from the principal to tell us what was the cause of their illness because we are now afraid to send our children to school. It is difficult to tell the children not to eat the food from school because they will go ahead and eat it anyway when you are not there and they love it,” he said.

Other parents expressed their shock over the incident as it was the first time such a thing had occurred.

The school holds feeding programmes regularly where children partake in meals, but none of them have ever fallen ill before.

Department of Education spokesperson Sihle Mlotshwa said they are aware of the incident and they are very disappointed.

“We are still waiting for a report from the hospitals where the children were admitted and we will then take further steps after we have an idea of what caused this illness. We have also asked our nutritionist to investigate this matter so that we can get to the bottom of it.We are just happy that no lives were lost.

“To all the parents whose children suffered, we are with them in prayers and we hope that their children will recover soon,” he said.

“A total of 171 pupils were rushed to Edendale Hospital, Northdale, and Grey’s Hospital on Monday afternoon after they started vomiting and feeling weak after allegedly eating amasi (maas).”


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