The death of a grade 1 pupil from Mandlakhe Primary School caused disturbances, tensions, and looted spaza shops in Tsakane, east of Johannesburg.
According to reports, the pupil died on Tuesday after consuming biscuits that she had bought from a spaza shop.
On Wednesday, irate locals broke into the spaza shops, gained entry without authorisation, and destroyed all of the food before the police arrived.
The student began experiencing health issues in the morning and later began vomiting, according to the Gauteng department of education.
Declared dead by the paramedics
The department said the pupil’s parents were informed about the matter, and an ambulance was called. Upon arrival, the paramedics declared the child dead.
Education MEC Matome Chiloane urged municipalities and law enforcement to enforce compliance standards more strictly when it comes to spaza shop products.
Chiloane expressed his deep sadness over this unfortunate incident.
“We plead with parents to be vigilant concerning the edible goods that their children consume, and we wish to extend our sincerest thanks to the parents and the school community at large.”
He went on to say that his department will send out a psycho-social support team to offer counselling and trauma support to everyone who is impacted.
According to the police, their investigation into the child’s death is ongoing.
The province is facing increasing difficulties with these cases since the deaths of four boys, ages two, three, four, and six.
The boys were reported to have consumed sweets and chips from a vendor at West Deep in Westonaria in October 2023.
A week after that, Neo Khang and Katlego Mbatha, both six years old, lost their lives after eating biscuits and drinking juice bought from a local shop in Naledi, Soweto.
The West Rand and Johannesburg health districts’ response teams declared that they would provide health education in the affected communities.
According to them, the awareness campaign will concentrate on safe food handling, preparation, and storage practices.
It will also highlight the significance of handwashing before handling food and reading food expiration labels.
According to Gauteng’s department of health, part of the advocacy work involves contacting local vendors and spaza shops to verify compliance with the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics, and Disinfectants Act, as well as food labelling laws.