The dumping ground where the children consumed the toxic substance. Picture: Supplied
The dumping ground where the children consumed the toxic substance. Picture: Supplied

Four children die after consuming 'toxic substance' on dump site

By Sisonke Mlamla Time of article published Jan 6, 2020

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Cape Town - Four children died of suspected food poisoning in NU30, Motherwell, Port Elizabeth on Sunday afternoon.

According to police spokesperson Captain Andre Beetge, the four, Alunamda Mqawu 3, Zintle Mqawu 10, Alizwa Rhwayibana, 5, and his sister Asive Rhwayibana, 11, died after consuming a “toxic substance on a dumping area”. Another child, seven-year-old Asiphile Grootboom, survived, Beetge said on Monday.

Beetge said the Motherwell Health Centre in NU4B alerted police about children's deaths just after 6pm on Sunday.

“Alunamda passed away on arrival at the health centre, while his sister Zintle and another pair of siblings, Alizwa and his sister Asive, all died while receiving treatment at the health centre.”

He said Asiphile was brought in the centre later the afternoon with similar symptoms and was released after receiving treatment.

Siblings Asive and Alizwa Rhwayibana died after consuming a poisonous substance which they found at a local dumpsite. Picture: Supplied

“All the children were apparently playing close to their homes and ate some food stuffs they found between the rubble.”

Beetge said some rumors about chips and cheese were doing the rounds, but police will only be able to get a closer idea of the cause of death once post mortems and forensic tests have been conducted.

“Residents and police today visited the area where lots of rubbish and trash have been dumped in an open area under the NU30 power lines, about 100 meters from the houses where the children live,” he said.

“A formal inquest docket was opened,” he said, any person with information that could assist police with the investigation, can make contact with the Motherwell Police Station or call 08600 10111.

The community looks on as police investigate the death of the four children. Picture: Supplied

The Motherwell Cluster Commander, Major General Dawie Rabie has expressed his condolences to the families affected by the tragedy.

Rabie said he has also issued a stern warning to the community in the area not to consume anything found on rubbish dump sites.


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