Poisoned food claims three family members

LERIBE – Three family members in Leribe died two weeks ago after eating poisoned food.

It is suspected that the poisoned food was prepared by their house keeper.

The house keeper has since been arrested for allegedly deliberately poisoning the family.

Teboho Matjeketjane, 37, and his two children, Thuso, six, and one-year-old Puleng, died on the 26th of February in tragic circumstances.

The mother of the house, ‘Mathuso Matjeketjane, 32, survived because she did not eat the food.

‘Mathuso said she had decided to feed her baby first.

She said she had tasted the food and it had a queer taste.

‘Mathuso however never thought there was anything amiss with the food.

“The food had a bad smell and an after-taste. When I mentioned it my husband said he had chewed some sandy substance,” said ‘Mathuso in an interview last Friday.

‘Mathuso said she had no reason to suspect that the food could have been poisoned.

‘Mathuso said at around 11pm, a few hours after the meal, young Puleng started experiencing excruciating stomach pain.

“She was in so much pain. In a minute her body was so hot. She sweated heavily. We rushed her to the hospital,” ‘Mathuso said.

‘Mathuso, her husband and some neighbours decided to rush Puleng to the government-run Motebang Hospital, some 80km away.

Teboho, his wife, the baby and a few neighbours jumped into their family 4 x 4 truck and sped off.

But back home Thuso developed similar symptoms.

He started turning and tossing on her bed in pain, said Semakaleng Matjeketjane who had been left to take care of the child when the others rushed to the hospital.

Semakaleng said he panicked.

“I got confused. I started to pray for the boy to get better. He was snoring abnormally,” Semakaleng said.

Semakaleng called the boy’s parents to inform them about the condition of their son.

When the message got to Matjeketjane that his son was ill he rushed back home.

As he drove back to the hospital Teboho started vomiting a foamy substance.

A few minutes later he was dead.

Puleng and Thuso died a few minutes later.

“We were startled. When we finally arrived at the hospital all three were already dead,” Semakaleng said.

Matjeketjane said doctors at Motebang Hospital confirmed that the three had been poisoned.

I never thought they had been poisoned, ‘Mathuso said.

She said she was also taken in for treatment and observation at the hospital.

Matjeketjane said she was finding it difficult to accept that the lives of her beloved husband and children had been snuffed out just like that.

“Now I have no husband, no children. Every day I wake up I cry.”

Matjeketjane said she is still to come to terms with her loss. She said she was shaken when her maid was arrested for allegedly poisoning the family.

She said at no time did she suspect that her ‘trusted’ maid would turn against her.

“Perhaps I trusted so much. She was like family to me. She also seemed to love us all. I do not believe she had any intention to kill us. It must have been an accident,” Matjeketjane said as she sought to downplay her domestic worker’s culpability.

The domestic worker, who cannot be named because she is still to appear before the courts, was arrested last week on Monday.

She is in police custody at Leribe police station.

Senior Superintendent Janki Hlaahla said the suspect is expected to appear in court facing murder charges as soon as they finish their investigations.

Last year, a Leribe woman poisoned her husband, his siblings and their neighbour’s child. She is still awaiting trial.

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