South Africa: Families Rally to Help Bury Three Children Who Died After Playing On Dump Site

City of Cape Town and SAPS are investigating the deaths

  • Police and the City of Cape Town are investigating the deaths of three children in Khayelitsha two weeks ago.
  • Alunezo Janda, Athanathi Janda and Hlelo Mahlatshana died soon after playing on an unofficial dump site.
  • Families have rallied round to collect money for the funeral of the three children.

Families in Taiwan informal settlement in Khayelitsha have rallied together collecting R10 per household to help with the burial of three children who died in mysterious circumstances two weeks ago.

The children – one-year-old Alunezo Janda, six-year-old Athanathi Janda and their six-year-old neighbour Hlelo Mahlatshana – had been playing at an unofficial dump site near their homes when they returned home saying they were feeling sick. All three children died the same day.

Earlier, Athanathi had eaten pap and sausage prepared by Athanathi and Alunezo’s grandmother, Nomemeza Janda, with leftovers from the previous night’s supper.

The South African Police Service (SAPS) and City of Cape Town environmental health department have opened separate investigations into the cause of death of the children.

Janda said SAPS had taken the family cooking pots for its investigation. But, she said, one-year-old Alunezo had not eaten the food she had cooked, nor had Hlelo. Furthermore, the rest of the family had eaten the food and had not fallen ill.

She told GroundUp on Tuesday that the family was still waiting for the outcome of the autopsies on the children.

Janda said the City environmental health department had not yet visited the family.

Community leader Zanenkosi Boki said residents were concerned about uncollected rubbish in Khayelitsha over the last two months. He said the City had terminated a contract with a cleaning company and since then black refuse bags had not been supplied and rubbish had not been collected.

When GroundUp visited Taiwan informal settlement, BM section and RR section (all in Khayelitsha) rubbish was piled up in the alleys between shacks.

Resident Mkhuseli Matayika said some people threw medical waste, rat poison and rotten food into the streets.

“People are living in a dump. In upmarket areas you’ll never see such a dump … but here, in the townships, it takes several months, after numerous complaints. We still believe the children ate something at that dump site that caused their deaths,” said Matayika.

Janda said her grandchildren, Alunezo and Athanathi, would be buried in the Eastern Cape this coming Saturday.

Boki said R5,000 had already been collected from families in Taiwan for the funeral.

“What happened touched people around here,” said Boki.

Asked for an update, City of Cape Town spokesperson Luthando Tyhalibongo said on Tuesday, “The City is investigating the matter and will respond in due course.”