The nutrition programme at the Nelson Ngobeni Primary School in eMalahleni in Mpumalanga is not to be blamed for the death of two pupils. The provincial Health Department has declared the food provided at the school is safe.

Two pupils were killed and 11 others were hospitalised at the school two weeks ago. There was strong suspicion they might have consumed poisonous food.

Ten-year-old Thabo, a Grade 5 pupil, was admitted to Intensive Care for suspected food poisoning. He says he and his friends bought popcorn from a tuck shop.

“After school, myself and three friends bought popcorn from a tuck shop in Extension 4. After eating the popcorn, I got a headache and my stomach was sore and I couldn’t move my body. I’m very sad for those who died.”

The provincial Departments of Education and Health investigated and found the food at the school was safe.

Jasper Zwane from the Mpumalanga Department of Education says that the food provided by the school is clean and hygienic.

“We can confirm that, after the incident, the Department of Health conducted an investigation. We have found that the food provided by the school is not the cause for the incidents. They found that the food was clean and hygienic.”

Police investigations continue. They are yet to raid tuck shops in the area.

The deceased’s grandfather, Alfred Mabena, says they will only get closure after they know what happened.

“We will only get closure once we receive the police report and what caused the death of the children.”

The school feeding scheme was suspended immediately after the incident, but three days later another pupil experienced similar symptoms and later died.

The outcome of the investigation has ended the suspension on the feeding scheme. The scheme is expected to resume on Tuesday.

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