Learners’ lives at risk: 832 learners affected by food poisoning in Gauteng schools

More than 832 learners in Gauteng have been affected by food poisoning in the past five years, which indicates that their lives are at risk. The Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) is not doing enough to ensure that the School Governing Body (SGB) enforces the Department of Basic Education’s developed guidelines for the management of nutrition and vendors.

The department has reported that 12 incidents of food poisoning have occurred across all Gauteng schools after learners bought and ate food sold by vendors inside the school premises.

The department only recorded the number of incidents that occurred inside the school premises and excluded the incidents that occurred outside the school premises but affected learners.

This information was revealed by the Gauteng MEC for Education, Matome Chiloane, in a written reply to the DA’s questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL).

The following 12 schools have been affected by food poisoning:
• 2019: Rosina Sedibana Special School had 27 learners affected.
• 2020: Iterele Secondary School had 115 learners affected.
• 2020: Vlakfontein Secondary School had 122 learners affected.
• 2021: Rivoni Secondary School had five learners affected.
• 2021: Sizwesethu Primary School had 21 learners affected.
• 2021: MH Baloyi Secondary School had 203 learners affected.
• 2022: Ezimvubu Primary School had 15 learners affected.
• 2022: Nghunghunyani Secondary School had one learner affected.
• 2022: Diepsloot Primary School had 73 learners affected.
• 2022: Lefa Ifa Secondary School had 60 learners affected.
• 2023: Rodney Mokoena Primary School had 78 learners affected.
• 2023: Thathulwazi Secondary School had 112 learners affected.

The department didn’t report cases where learners lost lives like incidents in Roodeport and Naledi which occurred last month. Also, other cases like Alexander and Soshanguve were not included in this reply.

For far too long, the DA has been demanding the vetting of school vendors to ensure proper hygiene measures are followed to avoid food poisoning.

Furthermore, the DA has tabled questions to the MEC for Health requesting the postmortem report of learners who died after eating food bought from the vendors selling outside the school premises.

We reiterate our call for the GDE to engage and ensure that the SGB adheres to the guidelines, rules, and safety measures to manage and prevent incidents of food poisoning proactively.

The safety of all learners is of utmost importance to the DA, and we will continue to hold the GDE accountable for failing to ensure learners’ safety by not enforcing preventative measures to avoid food poisoning.