A 15-month-old street kid, Ashley Macheka, died at the Harare Magistrates’ Courts on Thursday morning from suspected food poisoning while eight others were rushed to hospital in an ambulance after they had eaten contaminated food from a bin.
A City of Harare ambulance was called by police officers at the courts to take the critically ill street kids to hospital. All of them were vomiting and hardly able to talk.
The group of street kids had rushed to seek help at the courts from their nearby base, a sanitary lane close to Ranch House College, across Rotten Row, after realising the food they had eaten was causing severe stomach problems.
The nine kids, including the now deceased, all of them girls, sat by the main entrance to the courts crying for help. They were gasping for breath and writhing in pain.
The scene drew the attention of scores of people at the courts.
Police and court officials quickly reacted and called an ambulance.
Police yesterday confirmed the incident and said eight other kids were taken to Parirenyatwa Hospital where they were receiving treatment. They were all in a stable condition.
According to provincial police spokesperson Inspector James Sabau, the street kids, including the deceased baby’s mother Nyasha Brian (17), picked up sadza from a refuse bin on Wednesday evening and kept it overnight.
On Thursday morning, the group picked up a take-away food container with leftover fish and vegetables. They shared the food among themselves and also fed the baby.
The baby’s mother and its father Tafadzwa Macheka (19), who also lives on the streets, had left the baby in the care of another street kid, Mellisa Ncube, while they went on an unspecified errand in Mbare.
“Immediately after consuming the food, the group suffered severe stomach pains and began vomiting. They dashed for assistance at the magistrates’ court nearby where unfortunately the baby died,” Sabau said.
He said the food had been taken for forensic tests and investigations were in progress.