180 Matrics, vomiting, rushed to hospital
180 Grade 12 pupils rushed to hospital with cramps and diarrhoea
More than 180 Grade 12 pupils were rushed to hospital in Libode with suspected food poisoning on Thursday.
The Tutor Ndamase Senior Secondary School pupils’ symptoms included vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach cramps and headaches.
At the time of writing, it was still unclear whether any pupils would be admitted as they were still being examined by doctors at St Barnabas Hospital in Ntlaza, said health spokesperson Lwandile Sicwetsha.
The school, in Nyandeni village in Libode, does not have a hostel but principal Mphakamiswa Mjali said the matriculants had spent the past two weeks sleeping over at the school as they were attending a review camp to prepare for the upcoming final exams.
He said most of the pupils were girls. “They had tinned fish and rice for supper and the food was prepared a little earlier while the pupils were still in class, and so we suspect that may have been the cause but we cannot be sure.
“In the morning they all started complaining about the same thing and were rushed to hospital by ambulance.”
When the Daily Dispatch arrived, doctors and nurses had their hands full trying to attend to all the pupils while concerned parents trickled in looking for answers.
Some pupils were put on drips while others were already showing signs of recovery as they interacted with one another and their parents.
This is the fourth suspected food poisoning incident at a government school this year.
Earlier this year, Ndamase Senior Secondary School in Ngqeleni had two incidents of food poisoning in two months and at Mthatha Technical High School pupils were taken to Mthatha regional hospital with cramps.
Parents told the Dispatch on Thursday they wanted an investigation to ascertain what had caused their children to fall sick. Mabhele Mnyaka, who has three children at the school, said when he sent his children to school he expected them to learn and not to suffer from a near-death experience.
“I received a call in the morning and when I got here my daughter was still on a drip. She is now on her second bag while two boys still seem weak but recovering. This is quite unacceptable. We need the department to determine whether or not the cooks abide by health and safety standards.”
Parent Nodumo Sontaba said she would not be allowing her child to eat food cooked the night before at the school anymore until there was proper assurance that such an incident would not happen again.
Pupil Sinazo Zwide, 18, said the food had no suspicious smells or strange tastes.
She woke up on Thursday not feeling well.
“First it was stomach cramps, then the diarrhoea. By the time I got to hospital I also had a severe headache and I was feeling weak,” said Zwide.
Education department spokesperson Malibongwe Mtima confirmed the incident and said a multidisciplinary team had been sent to the school to uncover what had gone wrong and to find ways to remedy the situation and further prevent any future cases.
“We are monitoring the patients. This is the first time this has occurred at this school.
“We appeal for calm as we want to avoid unintended consequences,” said Mtima...