Pupil dies after allegedly drinking poison as Gauteng grapples with rising number of deaths

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Panyaza Lesufi, Gautengse. (Gallo Images)
Panyaza Lesufi, Gautengse. (Gallo Images)

A Grade 11 pupil from Vereeniging died after allegedly drinking poison, the Gauteng Department of Education has said. 

The department announced the tragedy in the wake of a 16-year-old Grade 10 Ferndale High School pupil who fell to his death from the third floor of the school building on Tuesday morning. 

Department spokesperson Steve Mabona said the 17-year-old girl, who attended Tharabollo Secondary School, allegedly drank the poison at home on Sunday.

READ | Lesufi seeks divine intervention after pupil falls to his death from school balcony

She was rushed to the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital, where she was certified dead on arrival. 

"Unfortunately, it is unknown what prompted the deceased learner to commit suicide. The police are investigating circumstances surrounding this unfortunate incident," Mabona said.

The death toll from around the province was now standing at 11, Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said during an interview with eNCA, adding the deaths were a bad omen covering the province's basic education sector.

"We take this time to send our heartfelt condolences to the families, friends and the school communities during this time of grief. No words are enough to express our sorrow at a loss of a child. We hope that the families will find comfort in the knowledge that we too share their loss," Lesufi said in a statement reacting to the deaths.

Mabona said the department's psychosocial unit had started counselling affected schools and families.

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