A stakeholder meeting called by Gauteng Education MEC Panyasa Lesufi at MH Baloyi Secondary School in Winterveldt north of Pretoria was disrupted earlier today. Lesufi visited the school this morning after 203 learners were treated and released from hospital following an alleged food poisoning incident at the school yesterday.
Angry parents accused the school principal of mishandling the incident by failing to contact them on time. A group of disgruntled parents ordered Lesufi and his team to leave the premises after talks that lasted for just a few minutes.
They allegedly gatecrashed a gathering, despite police presence, that was only meant for the school management, SGB representatives and the MEC. Parents accused the school principal of not taking the lives of their children seriously and they want her to go.
“ Parents were not supposed to hear from their children through phones. They must take us, parents, seriously. Parents came to the school and waited at the gate. They’re the ones who did not open the gate for the parents,” said one of the parents.
Another parent said; “When I was at home, I got a call from my sister. She was saying that they were taking Gontse to hospital. She asked me to go check what was happening. I then rushed to NH Baloyi School, yesterday. I found all the parents waiting outside, with nobody explaining what was happening to them.”
School Governing Body Chairperson Sam Masango blames parents for politicizing the matter. He confirms that scores of learners fell ill and were subsequently rushed to hospital. He called for calm and cooperation as investigations are continuing.
“ I am very disappointed, due to some political parties which came here to disrupt the meeting whereby the MEC was supposed to address the parents. As the chairperson of the school, I am not going to comment because we are waiting for the report from the MEC and the report from other stakeholders- especially the Department of Health that gave our children medical attention yesterday. I am so disappointed because of these political parties that arrived and disrupted our meeting. However, I am delighted that so far over 200 learners are home and safe. As a parent and chairperson of the school, I am happy that our children are safe.”
While on site at MH Baloyi Secondary School earlier today, MEC @Lesufi engaged with school management & district officials regarding the alleged food poisoning incident. He also interacted directly with the learners of the school @Steve_Mabona @GautengProvince pic.twitter.com/sFnru3aj6x
— Gauteng Department of Education (@EducationGP1) March 18, 2021
More than 200 learners were treated and released from hospital after complaining of running stomaches. This after consuming their daily meal as normally prepared by the school’s nutrition program team. Gauteng Basic Education spokesperson Steve Mobona says they are disappointed following the behaviour of the parents that led to the collapse of the intended intervention.
“ Then there was a misunderstanding due to misrepresentation from the community who wanted to be addressed on different issues not related to what we came here for. Unfortunately, that short meeting collapsed and could not continue with the interaction process. But we will wait for the necessary report that will be guiding us on the way forward.”
Some of the affected learners have already returned to classes, while some are still recovering from home. The school has been ordered to suspend the serving of some food that is suspected of having made the learners sick until investigations are completed. Food samples have been sent to the laboratory for tests.