56 pupils hospitalised in poisoning scare

Fifty-six grade four pupils from Sigombe primary school in Nkulumane suburb were Friday rushed to Mpilo Central Hospital amid fears they may have eaten poisonous seeds from a Jatropha tree at the school.

The pupils, 34 boys and 22 girls were partaking in a cleanup exercise at the school premises when they reportedly consumed the poisonous seeds.

After the cleaning exercise,  the learners went back to class where they started complaining of feeling unwell.

One by one, the children started vomiting and complaining of stomach pains prompting the teachers to investigate the cause.

It was discovered the learners ate Jatropha seeds which are poisonous and the school authorities rushed them to hospital.

Out of the 56, one learner was said to be critical but the medical staff managed to stabilise all the pupils.

Mpilo Hospital Public Relations Officer, Ozias Ndlovu said the learners were treated for abdominal pains and diarrhoea.

“We gave the children Oral rehydration salt (ORS) to replace the fluids they lost. They will be placed under observation for the night,” he said.

When the CITE news crew arrived at the hospital, parents of some the children were milling around waiting to see their children.

“I was phoned by the school informing me that my child has been rushed to hospital after he consumed some poisonous plant. I rushed to the hospital and found him stable and on a drip,” said one parent who declined to be named.

By late afternoon the hospital was now making arrangements to move the learners to other spacious wards in the hospital due to limited space at the children`s hospital.

Jatropha curcas is a common plant found all over the world. Traditionally it has been used for medicinal purposes but in recent times it is being promoted as bio-diesel fuel.

Jatropha curcas seeds resemble castor seed in shape and are black in colour.

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