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Cape Town -

A 10-year-old schoolgirl collapsed and died in her physical education class for no obvious reason.

Staff at Khanya Primary School in Mitchells Plain are perplexed by the sudden death of Nande Jentile, who was in Grade 6, in her physical education class shortly after 2pm on Tuesday.

The teacher in charge picked up her body, felt for a pulse which was apparently present, then carried the girl to the staff room.

“We laid her down, not knowing whether she was still alive,” school principal Linda Mahote told the Cape Argus on Wednesday morning.

“The ambulance came quickly, but by that time (25 minutes later) it was clear that Nande had passed away.”

Mahote described Nande as a sprightly and lively child, even though she could also be shy at times.

“She was slight and not very strong. But I knew of no previous health problems that she had. Every year she would participate in athletics just like everyone else. She had never shown discomfort during physical education.”

Psychologists had been dispatched to the school on Tuesday to provide counselling to pupils and staff. Nande’s parents had also spoken to the staff.

They were at Salt River morgue to identify the body this morning and could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.

“The Department is saddened by the sudden death of a Grade 6 learner, Nande Jentile, yesterday afternoon,” said Western Cape Education Department spokeswoman Bronagh Casey.

“Nande collapsed at Khanya Primary School in Mitchells Plain, on Tuesday afternoon whilst exercising during the Life orientation period. The school alerted authorities immediately and the ambulance crew confirmed her death on arrival at the school.

“Our condolences to the family and friends of Nande.”

Casey said the cause of death was unknown at this time.

Nande’s parents had told the department that their daughter did not have heart problems and was a healthy child.

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Cape Argus