Father Describes Watching His Daughter Slip Away After Eating Spaza Shop Biscuits

Heartbreak and Tragedy: Father Describes Watching His Daughter Slip Away After Eating Spaza Shop Biscuits

In a devastating turn of events, the father of six-year-old Refiloe Usman has recounted the harrowing experience of standing helplessly by his dying daughter’s side as her life slowly slipped away.

Little Refiloe tragically passed away at Mandlethu Primary School in Tsakane, Ekurhuleni, on Tuesday morning, just hours after consuming biscuits purchased from a nearby spaza shop.

Lucky Mkhwanazi, Refiloe’s father, tearfully described the heart-wrenching ordeal of witnessing his daughter’s deteriorating condition.

He recalled how he had been walking Refiloe and her younger sister to school, accompanied by a neighbor and her three children, when they decided to make a stop at the spaza shop to purchase biscuits.

The family was running late, and the children had missed breakfast at school, prompting the impromptu purchase.

“I don’t usually buy biscuits for Refiloe, but I would buy some for her younger sister and put them in her backpack for later,” Mkhwanazi explained. “But yesterday [Tuesday], we were a little late.

They had missed breakfast at school, so when she [Refiloe] saw me buying some for her sister, she also wanted some.”

Tragically, just before 11 am, Mkhwanazi received a distressing call from the school informing him that Refiloe had collapsed after vomiting. Rushing to the scene, he found his daughter lying paralyzed near her classroom door, her eyes wide open and unresponsive.

“I kept talking to her. I told her to hang in there, that she would be fine. I could see that she could hear me, but her pulse was becoming weaker and weaker. She died in front of me. I died with her. She was my world. I will never be the same again,” Mkhwanazi painfully recalled.

Refiloe’s younger sister, Bonolo, along with their friends Slindile, Nqobile, and Samkelo, were also hospitalized after consuming biscuits from the same shop. Fortunately, they were discharged the following day.

Describing his bond with Refiloe, Mkhwanazi shared cherished memories of their daily routine and the special connection they shared.

“She knew when I was down and only she could cheer me up. She knew our morning routine. I would bathe her, dress her, and do her hair, then we’d walk to school. Every day,” he fondly reminisced.

Following the tragic incident, tensions escalated in the community, leading to the looting of several spaza shops, including the one where the fatal biscuits were purchased. Somali shop owners decided to close their shops and leave the area amid safety concerns.

Education MEC Matome Chiloa visited the affected families to offer condolences and reassurance. He pledged to provide psychological support to the affected pupils, teachers, and families, acknowledging the financial challenges faced by some members of the community.

“The father indicated that he could not afford bread, and that is why he bought biscuits. While the school does provide meals, there seems to be a financial problem in the area,” Chiloa remarked. “I have spoken to my colleague from social development to see if they can come to the area and offer some support.”

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