Kids did not die on my property, says Westdene homeowner

Johannesburg MMC for health and social development Mpho Phalatse addressing the media outside Sophiatown police station about the Westdene preschool where two children allegedly died due to rat poisoning, 12 June 2019. Picture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso / African News Agency (ANA)

This after two children died at an illegal creche on 10 May, allegedly of rat poisoning.

The owner of the house in which a Zimbabwean woman was babysitting children says the two children who died of alleged rat poisoning did not die on his property.

“They are publishing nonsense saying that they found two babies here dead because of rat poisoning. That report is not out from the police station; if anyone has the report that states the children died because of rat poisoning then they must come show me,” Barry De Beer said

“The kids did not even die here, the one died at hospital and the other died at home.”

De Beer said the lady who was taking care of the children was a tenant renting on his property in the backyard.

The children in her care were those of friends on the same street and in the area, according to De Beer.

“Everybody is coming here for this lady and threatening this lady for some reason. She is looking after my kids and there is nothing wrong with them and she has been looking after my kids for eight years.”

He said the woman has been looking after other children as well for a couple of years.

“This lady has been looking after kids now for a couple of years, it is not a registered pre-school and we allowed that she looked after kids because she asked us if she could for an extra income.”

De Beer said that one of the children was collected on that morning by her sister and there was nothing wrong with the child until later when he heard that she died of poisoning.

When asked if he had kept any rat poison on the property, he said that he had dogs and children and would not put down rat poison. However, he said that the community has been struggling with mice.

Sophiatown police station spokesperson, Captain Jerbes De Bruyn, said the children were sick and taken to hospital where they then died of unknown illness.

“We obviously did the post mortem investigations where we found spoors of some sort of poisoning, so we are waiting for a toxicology reports to see what kind of poison might have contributed to this death,” De Bruyn said

“Two cases of inquest have been opened and we are investigating.”

He said that no arrests have been made so far.

MMC for Health and Social Development, Mpho Phalatse, said after visiting the police station that the department has made the process fairly easy for those who wanted to register an early childhood development center.

She said that she had heard reports of the illegal running of pre-schools and has launched a full scale investigation.

“I do feel that as a department we have dropped the ball in only picking this up now. I have questioned why this was never brought under my attention until the ward councilor brought it to my attention,” Phalatse said

“Officials should report incidents, particularly ones like this, rather sooner than later so this is a gap in the system.”

She said that she had communicated with environmental health and would be holding them accountable and expect for them to communicate things as they happen but also to prevent things.

“The creche has since been closed down, environmental health did close it down and if it hasn’t closed, then that is a gross crime that we will not take lightly,” Phalatse said.

Both the children died on the 10th of May.

African News Agency (ANA)

For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.

today in print

today in print