BULAWAYO – A Grade 4 pupil has died and two others have been hospitalised, it is believed after consuming food laced with poison at school.
Police have launched an investigation into the incident at Emakhandeni Primary School in Bulawayo.
Tests are being carried out at Mpilo Central Hospital to establish what type of poison the three girls consumed after eating Jiggies snacks and drinking Mahewu, a non-alcoholic maize meal beverage.
The hospital’s CEO Professor Solwayo Ngwenya said: “I can confirm that on Wednesday, three primary school children were befallen by tragedy.
“One of them was brought to the hospital already dead, and the other two girls are admitted at our hospital and they are undergoing treatment and further investigation. We send our condolences to the family and are very saddened by this development.”
Ngwenya said the two hospitalised pupils were stable.
“The most dangerous time if you consume a poison is the period before you get to hospital. When they get here, we are generally able to stabilise the patient,” Ngwenya said.
The poison was quite potent, he added, based on the almost sudden death of one of the children who was reportedly foaming at the mouth.
The school’s head reportedly collapsed when she got news of the tragedy.
A school source said: “We believe there is a girl who brought Mahewu and Jiggies which she herself did not consume but gave away to her friends. This happened during break time at round 10.30AM.
“The pupils fell ill almost immediately, but the teachers did not act quick enough. There is a clinic at Emakhandeni nearby, but that option was not taken. An ambulance was only called at 2PM, unfortunately it was too late for one of the children.”
Police have heard that the grandmother of the pupil who brought the Jiggies and Mahewu was linked to a previous poisoning incident at the school.
“It’s about two years ago, it’s said that the grandmother got tired of children asking for food from her granddaughter and so she applied poison to a drink which she was to give away. Fortunately, the pupil who was given the drink survived,” a police source said.
Police have opened a murder inquiry.