Two children aged 4 and 6 have died after allegedly eating a pack of cookies bought from a local spaza shop in Naledi, Soweto.
It is reported that the two children were part of a group which on Sunday evening bought pink-coloured cookies from one of the spaza shops operated by a foreign national believed to be from Somalia or Pakistan.
Two more children are said to be fighting for their lives, one at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital and the other at Bheki Mlangeni Hospital, both in Soweto.
One of the family suffered a double tragedy with two of their children having shared the alleged poisonous foodstuff resulting in the death of their 4-year-old Neo Khang, while his cousin, Katleho Mbatha (also 4), was still in hospital.
Their grandmother, Matota Khang, could not console herself as she told The Star of her agony trying to revive a growling Neo.
“We are devastated by the loss of our child and to think that we have another child fighting for his life in hospital breaks my heart. It was a terrible sight trying to revive him when he was complaining of chest pains. He literally turned pink while he was vomiting some pink and yellow stuff from his mouth. We had our hands full and neighbours came in to help and we managed to rush to the hospital only to be given the said news of the death of Neo after some time,” Khang said.
Nikini Morupa, a neighbour who was with the family, said she tried to help but the boy died in her arms.
“We are heartbroken and angry as the community because these foreigners are killing our children. It was painful when I held the child in my arms thinking he was still alive when in fact he had already passed away right before us,” Morupa said.
A few streets away in Tladi, just a few blocks from the spaza shop, the Jele family was also heartbroken following the death of Leon Jele aged 6, following the incident.
The boy’s uncle, Tshepo Williams, said his nephew was a very quiet, but respecting boy who did not deserve to die that way.
“We are being betrayed by our leaders who do nothing to stop these people from poisoning us. This is not the first time this family have suffered a tragedy. My sister was raped and killed all because of crime and an uncaring government,” Williams said.
The shop has since been shut down by the police and members of the community with other spaza shops operated by foreigners also being closed in parts of the township.
Police in Soweto have since opened an inquest docket following the deaths of the two children.
Leader of Operation Dudula, Ntonto Kente, who led the shutdown of foreign-owned spaza shops earlier in the day said they would continue with their operation to close down shops run by foreigners as they contributed to poisoning and killing children.
“The whole of this (week) will be dedicated to shutting down these businesses. We can’t let our children die and do nothing,” Kente said.
Gauteng Police spokesperson Dimakatso Nevhuhulwi said the police had opened an inquest docket as the cause of death was unknown pending post-mortem results.