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 woman 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.”

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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 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 an 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.

Johannesburg MMC for Health and Social Development Dr Phalatse addressing the media at Sophiatown police station about the two
Westdene children who allegedly died of poisoning. Bhekikhaya Mabaso African News Agency (ANA)

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 want to register an early childhood development centre.

She said that she had heard reports of the illegal running of preschools 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 to 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 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 10 May.

The backyard where the children played. Bhekikhaya Mabaso African News Agency (ANA)

Author: ANA Newswire