Johannesburg - About 275 pupils at Makeke Primary School in Limpopo were taken to hospital on Monday after they ate food that contained pieces of glass.
This has brought to more than 1 000 the number of pupils in the province suspected to have eaten food that had glass in it in recent weeks, according to impeccable sources with knowledge of the investigation.
The affected schools are in the Sekhukhune district.
The provincial Department of Education has contracted companies that supply mainly no-fee schools in the province with food.
On Monday, pupils at Makeke Primary School in Lukau village started vomiting and complaining of abdominal pain after eating porridge and beans.
Peter Mokganyetjie, the chairman of the school governing body, said his two children were among the pupils taken to hospital.
“When I came here, the principal showed me pieces of glass that were found in the meals. An ambulance first took 10 children; it came back for more.
Eventually, a bus was sent to take the children to hospital because they were so many of them,” he said.
A 12-year-old Grade 7 schoolgirl was among those who ate the contaminated food.
“After eating the food, I started to feel heat in my stomach. It was painful,” said the pupil, whose name The Star is withholding for legal reasons.
“Other pupils were also rolling on the floor in pain. Some were vomiting,” she said.
Although the pupil did not see pieces of glass in her food on Monday, she said she had seen “black things” in her food last Tuesday.
“We were eating fish and rice that day. Our teacher took some of them out of the dishes and put them in a plastic bag,” the pupil said.
A 10-year-old pupil said he no longer trusted food from the school. “I will never eat this food again,” he said.
Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabatha, who visited the school on Tuesday, said the provincial government was beginning to panic after Monday’s incident.
He said the province was considering suspending all food nutrition tenders across the province while it investigated.
“But that is still subject to confirmation… This department is one of the departments under administration, so we cannot take the decision as the province; we still need to get concurrence from national government,” he said
Mathabatha refused to divulge the names of the contracted companies implicated.
The latest incident comes after more than 100 other pupils at a separate school, Kwena Chuene Primary, were treated in hospital after they ate food that had glass in it last week.