Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi says his department has appointed a law firm to establish a forensic task team to investigate the deaths of two learners from the Khumalo Primary school in Katlehong, east of Johannesburg.

Another five-year old sibling is in the ICU in hospital. Lesufi says food eaten by the three children has been taken in for testing. Preliminary investigations show the cause might be food poisoning.

Lesufi says all other students were tested at the school and found to not have any of the same symptoms. However, Lesufi says as a precaution the team will investigate food vendors around the school.

“They had chicken and pap for dinner early in the morning the mother prepared the leftovers of that meal and just shortly after 8 o clock they started to complain. The police have also assisted us to track some of the remaining food so that we can hand over to our forensic investigators led by the Department of Health,” says Lesufi.

“We felt that we also need to have just an independent forensic unit. It’s quite clear that it’s something that happened at home but you don’t want to leave it to chance because there are people that are selling food outside our school premises so we’ve appointed this team just to track those last steps and determine what went wrong,” says Lesufi.

Meanwhile, Lesufi will visit the family of the two siblings on Thursday.

A teacher went to the family to inform them about the siblings and discovered that another five-year-old sibling had similar symptoms and has been rushed to the Thelle Mogoerane Hospital for urgent medical care.

Lesufi says, “Our team has been in touch with the family and because this is really shocking turn of events I will personally visit the family tomorrow morning and later visit the school. But because now I want it to be a subject of investigation I don’t want to pre-empt. What we have now from the department’s point of view is that the learners arrived late and missed their normal meal at school and later on they complained about cramps and it was in that context that they were taken to a clinic and unfortunately both of them passed on.”