The Gauteng department of education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi, has expressed his heartfelt condolences to the family of the boys who died on Thursday morning after consuming an energy drink.
In a statement, the department of education confirmed that the father gave his five children energy drinks as they were preparing for school. Three of the boys, Tebogo Ngcongwane, 6, Katleho Khoabane, 13, and Lehlogonolo Khoabane, 16, arrived at their respective schools and complained about stomach cramps.
One of the boys was rushed to hospital and died on the way while the other two were declared dead on the scene by medical personnel. The fourth sibling, Neo Khoabane, 11, is in critical condition at Thelle Mogoerane Regional Hospital.
The department’s spokesperson, Steve Mabona, said the fifth sibling, Thato Khoabane, 8, did not consume the energy drink.
Lesufi said he is deeply saddened and is lost for words about what happened.
“It is unusual to lose three children at the same time. Sadly we have found ourselves in this situation and we need to remain strong,” said Lesufi when he visited Ratanda Primary and Khanya Lesedi Secondary in Heidelberg, where the boys attended school.
Lesufi encouraged the pupils at the schools to remain strong and accept the psychosocial support provided by the department if they were struggling to come to terms with the death of their peers.
“I hate it with a passion to lecture you about death rather than careers. To make you accept death rather than opportunities given. We planned to upgrade the sporting activities in your school and looked forward to seeing a future Arthur Zwane and Doctor Khumalo come from your school, instead we are here speaking about death,” said Lesufi.
He assured the pupils and the staff at the schools that they were not alone and to never doubt the presence of the department.
The family spokesperson, Johannes Khoabane, said they were struggling to find closure.
“No one can explain the feeling of losing your own child if they have not experienced it. As a family we are devastated. We have no idea why the father of the boys did this. Hopefully we can get some answers soon,” said Khoabane.