Pretoria - The Soshanguve Magistrate’s Court on Friday denied bail to three men accused of selling muffins laced with marijuana to learners outside a Soshanguve school.
The trio, Amukelani Nyulunga, 19, Ofentse Maluleka, 21, and Katlego Matlala, 21, were arrested after 90 Pulamadibogo Primary School learners were admitted to hospital after eating the muffins allegedly sold by them.
Presiding magistrate Reginald Thulo said the court could not trust that the accused would honour their bail conditions should they be released.
The State argued that the accused forced the learners to consume the marijuana-laced muffins.
Community members and some parents of the learners, who wer picketing outside the court, could not hide their jubilation when they heard that the three were denied bail.
Tlou Thansha, a Soshanguve resident who had been in court on Friday, told the Pretoria News that the accused belonged in jail and did not deserve bail.
“These guys have been roaming the streets selling this poison to our children. We can’t have this. Children are children and belong in a classroom so they can secure their future.
“Instead of helping these kids with homework as the community's older generation, they are selling them drugs masquerading as food,” he said.
Thansha added that the community was now forced to find ways of combating these kinds of crimes because they were on the rise in the township.
The selling of drugs disguised as food has become rife in Pretoria recently.
On Thursday, 22 Tlotlompho Primary School learners were rushed to a local clinic in Ga-Rankuwa, north of Pretoria, after they fell ill following buying and eating snacks bought from a street vendor.
Confirming the incident, the Gauteng Department of Education said the learners presented with symptoms such as vomiting, stomach cramps and shortness of breath.
The department’s Steve Mabona said: “Some were released into parental care after medical attention, and those referred to hospital have also been discharged. Necessary medical tests were conducted for investigations.”
In a separate incident, in Winterveld, Pretoria, 40 children were rushed to hospital after allegedly eating snacks bought from vendors outside their school.
“We urge school governing bodies, parents and the community at large to be vigilant at all times and check all food snacks sold in and around schools. Where it is suspected that the snacks might have expired such information should be reported to the local authorities so that action can be taken,” Mabona said.
The Transformation Alliance said that they were ”deeply” concerned that these incidents continue to increase alarmingly with only condemnation from the Department of Education.