/ 8 May 2008

Probe into deaths of 78 children in E Cape

The Department of Health and the Department of Water Affairs are still collecting door-to-door information on the outbreak of diarrhoea in the Eastern Cape which cost 78 children’s lives, the provincial government said on Thursday.

Spokesperson Papama Mfenyana said the province was still waiting for information from the team on the ground.

”I cannot give you a figure on deaths because I’m still waiting for an update,” said Mfenyana.

In April, reports emerged that 78 children from Eastern Cape towns of Barkly East, Maclear, Sterkspruit and Elliot had died as a result of diarrhoea allegedly caused by contaminated water.

An official report, tabled at a closed council meeting last month, indicated there had been a breakdown at a water purification works in October last year.

The Democratic Alliance has called for the immediate release of the report on the diarrhoea outbreak.

In a joint statement, the DA’s spokesperson on health, Mike Waters, and spokesperson on water affairs and forestry, Mpowele Swathe, said an emergency team should be sent into the province to restore water quality and oversee emergency healthcare. – Sapa