School sanitiser explosion: Third Eastern Cape pupil dies

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Kayleen Morgan
  • One of seven pupils who were injured during the fatal 4 May sanitiser explosion at Nzuluka Senior Primary School in Libode, has died. 
  • The third victim succumbed to burn injuries on Saturday morning at Nelson Mandela Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit in Mthatha.
  • He and six other pupils were injured in a fire they were instructed by a teacher to start a fire to burn a snake on school grounds. 

One of seven pupils injured in the fatal sanitiser explosion at Nzuluka Senior Primary School in Libode has died. 

This now brings the death toll to three. 

News24 reported that, on 4 May, two pupils burnt to death and seven were injured in a fire they had started to burn a snake on school grounds.

The third victim succumbed to burn injuries on Saturday morning at Nelson Mandela Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit in Mthatha, said health department spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo. 

Eastern Cape Education MEC Fundile Gade learnt of the pupil's death while at the joint funeral of the other two who had died in the incident. 

This was revealed to News24 by Gade’s spokesperson Vuyiseka Mboxela. 

An investigation was launched on the orders of Gade, who was outraged by the bizarre incident.

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Mboxela said the investigation was still underway. The probe was launched after Gade heard two conflicting reports, News24 reported.

One version of events was that educators had joined the pupils when they saw them trying to kill the snake. 

But another version claimed it was an educator who instructed pupils to burn the snake, using 25 litres of sanitiser meant for Covid-19 prevention. 

It is understood that once the pupils set fire to the snake after dousing it with sanitiser, they caught alight following a big explosion. 

"After the MEC left the funeral of the two learners, he drove to the family of the latest victim of the fire to pay condolences and to inform that he is not going to make at the boy’s funeral this weekend due to a busy schedule," said Mboxela.

Mboxela revealed that Gade had pledged "contributions" to the families of the deceased boys. 

“The MEC also saw it that all other learners who were harmed by the flames, were not only receiving medical treatment in hospital but got psycho-social support from social development,” said Mboxela.  

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