Friday 18 February 2022


A GRADE Four pupil died while two others were rushed to hospital after eating corn snacks and drinking mahewu suspected to be laced with poison at Emakhandeni Primary School on Wednesday afternoon.

Zanele Ndlovu (9) died while on her way to Mpilo Central Hospital after eating the snacks which were brought by one of her classmates.

Police said the owner of the food and drink offered them to the three girls during break time and did not consume the food herself.

Confirming the tragedy yesterday, acting Bulawayo police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Nomalanga Msebele said the two girls were receiving treatment and were in a stable condition.

“Police in Bulawayo are investigating a case of sudden death by suspected food poisoning which occurred at Emakhandeni Primary School at around 10AM.

The deceased Zanele Ndlovu (9) was seated on the veranda outside their class with three other girls. One of them took out a packet of tomato flavoured snacks (a popular brand) from her satchel,” said Asst Insp Msebele. “Zanele then took the snacks from the girl’s lap, opened the packet and they started eating.

“The owner of the snacks told Zanele that the snacks did not taste nice which prompted Zanele to crush some of the snacks, mix them with mahewu and then drink the mixture.”

She said the other girl also took out her homemade popcorn from her bag, mixed them with the remaining snacks and shared them with the now-deceased and the other girl whilst the girl who brought the snacks did not eat the mixture.

“After eating the popcorn, Zanele and the other two girls started vomiting which attracted the attention of their class teacher who attended to the victims. The class teacher then called Zanele’s grandfather (74) who was attending a meeting at the school,” she added.

“On arrival, he noticed that Zanele was shivering with froth coming out of her mouth and nose. The informant, with the assistance of the teacher took Zanele to a tree shade. He then rendered first aid and an ambulance was summoned.”

Asst Insp Msebele said Zanele and her two classmates who were also in pain were ferried to Mpilo hospital for treatment.

She said the girl who brought the snacks did not fall ill hence she was not ferried to the hospital.

“Zanele was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital while the other two are still admitted to Mpilo paediatric ward and are in a stable condition. The body of the deceased is at Mpilo mortuary waiting for post-mortem results and investigations are in progress,” said Asst Insp Msebele.

“We urge parents to check and monitor their children’s food and snacks before they take them to school. If possible, may they also teach their children to have what they bring from home and avoid taking food from their peers.”

Chronicle caught up with the grief stricken Ndlovu family yesterday.

The family’s spokesperson, Mr Sir Julius Ndlovu said they were shaken by Zanele’s death.

“We are still shocked. Our child went to school on Wednesday only to be told that she had died a few hours later. We can’t stomach all of this and we hope police will get to the bottom of this. We are too shaken to say anything, but we are surely hurting,” said Mr Ndlovu who is Zanele’s uncle.

Mpilo acting chief executive officer Professor Solwayo Ngwenya said the two girls who were hospitalised were stable and are likely to be discharged soon.

“We received three girls on Wednesday and unfortunately one was brought in already dead and we admitted the two. They have been observed and they are receiving care as we anticipate their full recovery soon,” said Prof Ngwenya.

“We suspect that the one who died could have ingested more of the suspected poison. We are saddened by this incident and extend our sincere condolences to the family. At the same time, we hope police will get to the root cause of this and if anyone is guilty, they should be brought to book so that we all understand that life is sacred and cannot be taken away in this manner.” Chronicle


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