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Parents of children who died from rat poison at Westdene crèche demand answers

One of the mothers of the deceased Antoinette Visagie said she wanted someone to be held responsible for her child’s death.

Johannesburg Health MMC Mpho Phalatse outside Sophiatown police station on 12 June. Picture: Kayleen Morgan/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The mothers of the two children who died after apparently ingesting rat poison at an illegally run preschool in Westdene say they want answers.

On Wednesday they accused the owners of the facility of lying about what really happened.

Both toddlers, aged one and two, were buried last week.

One of the mothers of the deceased, Antoinette Visagie, said she wanted someone to be held responsible for her child’s death.

“I can’t just keep quiet, just bury the child and be like 'okay'. No, it doesn’t work like that; you need to know as a mother what happened to your child.”

Fanula Wabet who lost her one-year-old son denied the children died because of the food she cooked, as the owners of the crèche have claimed.

“They’re saying [it was] rat poison [that killed the children]. Why would I cook food and poison my own child?”

Johannesburg member of the mayoral committee Mpho Phalatse wanted to confront the owners of the illegal preschool but she was refused entry by the landlords.

Phalatse said her department had failed to ensure all preschools in the city were operating legally.

She said her department must take some of the blame for what had happened.

“I do feel like as the department we have dropped the ball. I have questioned why this was not brought to my attention until the ward counsellor brought it to my attention.”

Wabet said she’d been sending her child there for the past six months at a cost of R1,300.

“I don’t know what happened. She was the third child I was bringing here.”

The pre-school has since been shut down and the department said it would ensure it stayed that way.

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