Around 87 learners from Pulamadibogo Primary School in Soshanguve, north of Tshwane, who were hospitalised after consuming space cookies have been discharged.
The affected learners were admitted at the Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital on Wednesday, and have been discharged as their condition and health significantly improved, according Gauteng member of the executive council (MEC) for education MEC Matome Chiloane.
On Thursday night, Chiloane said only three girl learners remained in hospital “and they are still receiving the necessary medical attention to return to full health”.
“We are relieved that the affected learners were discharged following this saddening incident. We wish the remaining learners speedy recovery,” he said.
Police investigations into the circumstances surrounding the incident are still ongoing.
On Wednesday, at least 90 learners from the Pulamadibogo Primary School were rushed to local medical facilities after experiencing nausea, stomach cramps, and some vomiting from allegedly eating space cookies.
“According to information at our disposal, approximately 90 learners from Grade R to Grade 7 consumed what looked like muffins, suspected to be laced with dagga (space cookies), which they bought from a street vendor on their way to school,” Gauteng Education spokesperson Steve Mabona said at the time.
He said educators witnessed “strange behaviour” from the learners in class, and the teachers immediately called emergency services.
“All 90 affected learners were attended to by emergency services on school premises. However, they were all subsequently rushed to different medical facilities where their condition would be monitored,” said Mabona.
“Police visited the school as this incident caused distress among parents, who also came as they were concerned about the safety of their children. Subsequently, the street vendor was identified, and police will conduct their investigation accordingly,” he said.
On Thursday, an anti-drug organisation, the World Changers Candidates raised the alarm over the proliferation of drugs and other intoxicating substances among South African learners as young as in the lower grades.
Speaking to broadcaster Newzroom Afrika, founder of World Changers Candidates, Lucas Mahlakgane said drug usage among South African learners is very prevalent, and schools cannot be blamed for what happens when pupils leave or are going home.
“Kids in primary school are putting alcohol into their juice. They are mixing their juice with alcohol. And where is the school in that, where would the teachers come into this whole thing? The teachers only see this when they see funny behaviour from a child,” said Mahlakgane.
“From home, as you prepare you kid for school, they have the juice and on the way to school, they meet their peers and they experiment by putting alcohol into the normal juice,” he said.
“As a teacher, you would be thinking these kids are drinking juice. It is no longer juice anymore. We are talking about primary level. This has not started now, it started a long time ago. The stories are in the media where the vendors are actually selling kids drugs during the break, even on the fence.”
Mahlakgane said South Africa has become “a drug picnic”.