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'Our children were deliberately poisoned to destroy family'

Three girls, aged between 6 and 8, died at a Pretoria clinic shortly after falling ill at school yesterday.

Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi addressing residents of Winterveldt where three children died. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The family of two young girls who died after eating food at a school in Winterveld, north of Pretoria says it suspects the children were deliberately poisoned.

The three girls, aged between 6 and 8, died at a local clinic shortly after falling ill at the primary school yesterday.

Relative Klaas Mahlangu explains says, "This thing was made deliberately to destroy this family. According to the way things are, it was intentionally made to destroy this family because maybe those people couldn't get to us."

It was earlier reported that three children died after eating food provided through a state feeding scheme at the Ema Primary School.

But Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi says a preliminary report indicates that all three of the children had also eaten food from a non-feeding scheme source.

"From the feeding programme we provided yesterday, dough or bread was not part of the menu. It emerged that they ate cake, and we did not provide cake. Late last night a granny came forward to say she had provided the cake." Police are now interrogating the woman.

POLICE AWAIT POST-MORTEM RESULTS

The police's Kabelo Maruma says all three children died after being rushed to the clinic.

Maruma says they have opened an inquest docket, but have not yet started the investigation, which requires a medical report.

Maria Mahlangu (right) being consoled after her daughters' sudden deaths.

"An inquest case has been registered at the police station. We are waiting for the post-mortem results after which we will take over the investigation."

The food served to the children has been sent for testing and the contract of the service provider has since been suspended by Lesufi.

GRIEF LIKE NO OTHER

Speaking exclusively to Eyewitness News yesterday, the father of the sisters, Klaas Mahlangu, said he was called to the school only to find his daughters had been taken to a clinic where they later died.

Mahlangu said he was devastated.

"It's like I'm dreaming and nothing like this is happening. I'm waiting for someone to wake me up. This is not happening."