Three South African pupils allegedly killed by father

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The Gauteng education department on Thursday said three school pupils who are siblings died in Ratanda, Heidelberg, after allegedly consuming energy drinks they had been given by their father.

Two of the siblings died at school while the third died on the way to hospital. A fourth is in a critical condition while a fifth sibling had not consumed the drink.

The department said the cause of death was not confirmed, but MEC Panyaza Lesufi took to his Twitter account to say the father may have been behind the deaths.

Lesufi expressed sorrow at the news.

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“First, I wish to convey my sincerest condolences to the family, particularly the mother, of the deceased learners. I further extend my condolences to friends, fellow learners and teachers of the learners, especially those who had witnessed these tragic incidents,” Lesufi said.

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The boys, aged six, 13 and 16, were pupils at Ratanda Primary and Khanya Lesedi Secondary schools in Ratanda.

The department’s spokesperson Steve Mabona said preliminary reports allege the father gave his five children “energy drinks” in the morning while they were preparing for school.

“Four of the learners consumed the energy drink after arriving at school on Thursday. Sadly, two of the learners died shortly [afterwards] at the school after complaining of stomach pains, while one was rushed to the nearest hospital but died on the way. The fourth sibling is in a critical condition at the hospital, while the fifth, fortunately, did not consume the energy drink.”

Mabona said the department has dispatched its psychosocial support unit to the affected schools to offer counselling to the school community. The services have also been offered to the bereaved family.