The family of the Grade 1 learner who died following an alleged food poisoning after consuming cookies from a near by spaza shop are devastated over the loss of their child, who died just weeks after beginning primary school last month.
Rifiloe Usman, from Tsakane in Ekurhuleni, is one of the five children who reportedly ate contaminated cookies on Tuesday, with Usman reported to have died while waiting to be transported to a nearby hospital.
Four other children aged two, three and nine years old survived and are said to be recovering in hospital.
Usman was a learner at Mandlethu Primary School, where she spent her last two hours vomiting before losing her fragile life.
Speaking to The Star on Thursday, the mother of the child, Motshidisi Usman, said the loss of her child has left her shattered, as she was not ready to bury her six year old child just when she was beginning to get used to going to school.
“I just don’t know what to do and have no words to say. I think I have spoken enough and just want to be left alone to grieve my loss alone. As things stand, we as a family do not know whether we are coming or going. We still have a funeral to arrange, but we have nothing and no one to turn to,” she said.
Speaking as a family representative, Simphiwe Nkosi blamed the delay in emergency services, saying if the ambulance had arrived in time or if someone with a car had taken the initiative to take their child to the clinic or hospital, their child would have been saved.
“She was the only one out of five children to succumb to death due to the cookies. It took more than two hours for emergency help to arrive and by that time, the child had been crying, tossing and turning and had turned grey due to the poisoning. We feel had there been immediate help, she could have survived,” she said.
On Wednesday, the Gauteng Department of Health confirmed the incident.
According to the spokesperson for the department, Motalatale Modiba, said some of the other children are currently in a stable condition and recovering well at the Pholosong Regional Hospital in Tsakane, after they were admitted on Tuesday following a suspected food poisoning incident.
The department has put the figure of food poisoning deaths at 11 since the first wave that broke out in October 2023, while the total number of children who have suffered mild to severe symptoms is said to have be 861.
In the meantime, the incident has resulted in yet another wave of community-led protests and shutdown of spaza shops owned by illegal immigrants. Some of the shops have reportedly been looted in the aftermath of the latest incident of alleged food poisoning.