VENDORS: Luvuyo Mpehle, Nandipha Tshapile and Busisiwe Mkhangeli from Nyanga, who sell chicken, said some people bought cheap chicken from illegal sources.Picture: Phando Jikelo
The City has launched an investigation into the deaths of two young children suspected to have died of food poisoning in Philippi, Samora Machel.

Anele Ngqiba, 6, and Asemahle Nqgiba, 4, died and 16 others were admitted to hospital after eating chicken bought from a local vendor.

The Ngqiba family was distraught yesterday following the deaths of the two children at the weekend.

The City’s environmental health department investigates cases of suspected food-poisoning.

Mayoral committee member for safety, security and social services JP Smith said officials could not speculate on the cause of the deaths, and needed to wait until laboratory tests had been completed and postmortem results were available.

No further information had been presented to suggest that anyone else had been affected.

Smith said: “The investigation in this case will cover a number of aspects, including site visits to the home of the victims, the premises of the vendor where the food was purchased before preparation, and the farm where the vendor purchased the live chicken.”

He said environmental health practitioners had already secured samples of the food that the victims ate, and these had been sent to various laboratories for testing. They had also secured samples from the vendor for testing by the city’s bacteriological laboratory.

"This is a very tragic incident and our condolences go out to the family who have lost two young children. I know that there are many questions thatrequire answers and I assure the family and the community that the city will do everything possible to expedite the aspects of the investigation that fall within our mandate."

When the Cape Times visited a local street vendor who sells live chickens in Philippi, she said she had operated her business without a permit for the last six years.

She had tried to apply for a permit in 2011, but had not received any feedback.

“I tried to apply for a permit, I was promised that they would get back to me, but they have not said anything for six years,” she said.

Red Cross Children’s Hospital spokesperson Darren Francis said one of the three children admitted was out of ICU, and the other two were stable.

A 55-year-old man is in a critical condition in ICU at Groote Schuur Hospital after also eating contaminated chicken.