The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has expressed concern over messages circulating on social media, claiming that children died after eating contaminated two-minute noodles which had been tampered with by foreign nationals, described as illegal immigrants.
“The Commission reminds the public that official sources, being the department of health and South African Police Services, are still investigating the possible contamination. At this stage there is no evidence to suggest any possible tampering or any link with foreign-owned businesses,” the SAHRC said.
Should there be cause for concern, the SAHRC said, the relevant authorities would communicate.
“The commission notes that suggestions that the tragic deaths of five children in two different provinces are the result of revenge by foreign nationals, are irresponsible and have no basis in fact,” the SAHRC said.
“Until such time as the health authorities confirm the cause of the death of the three children in the Eastern Cape and the two children in Limpopo, and the police have traced the source of any contamination – should any contamination be found – the commission urges communities across the country to remain vigilant against the irresponsible spread of any messages which attempt to link the deaths to any alleged revenge plot.”
The SAHRC pointed out that health authorities in South Africa have postulated a possible recall of the noodles, should the evidence indicate that it is required.
“Should you receive messages of this nature, please do not forward them and advise the sender of the message that this is an unproven allegation and fake news,” the SAHRC said.
“The commission will continue to monitor the media and engage with the authorities in regard to ensuring that factual information is made available to the public.”
Last week, the South African Police Service in Mpumalanga said it was mere “speculation” that two siblings died from eating poisoned noodles.
Earlier this month, 9-year-old Thato and 13-year-old Keamogetswe Makofane were declared dead after being taken to a clinic. They had allegedly eaten two-minute noodles before school.
Police spokesperson Constable Busisiwe Mthetewa said that in the absence of a post-mortem report, there was no evidence to suggest the noodles caused their deaths.
“All we know at this stage, and according to the mom, is that was the first thing they ate that morning. We are still waiting for the results of the post-mortem. So, for now, we can’t confirm and it’s just speculation,” she said.
Mthetewa said police could not immediately link the children’s deaths to the recent case of three Eastern Cape children who died shortly after eating noodles.
The department of health has initiated an urgent investigation into possible food poisoning in Mpumalanga, the Eastern Cape, and Gauteng.
Spokesperson Foster Mohale said the department met the environmental health practitioners from the three affected provinces and municipalities on Thursday, in order to receive preliminary investigation reports into the children`s deaths.
The department wanted more information, including the food brand name, supplier or manufacturer and the stores where the food was purchased.