'They did all they could to save them' - aunt of Katlehong brothers who died after stomach aches

The mother of two Katlehong boys, who died on Tuesday after complaining about stomach aches, is struggling to come to terms with the loss of her two boys.

A member of the family, Lindiwe Nkosi told News24 that the mother, Phumzile Mbatha, has since been given medication to calm her down and help her to sleep.

It is believed that the boys died from food poisoning.

"Their mom is really not okay. She is now sleeping because she has been given medication to make her sleep," said the boys' aunt, Nkosi.

She explained the events that led up to the boys' death.

READ: Two primary school brothers die after stomach aches, third brother in hospital

"It all started when the 10-year-old, who was in Grade 4, complained to teachers that he was experiencing stomach cramps and was nauseous.

"When teachers were about to take him to the hospital, they also discovered that his seven-year-old brother, who was in Grade 1, was also complaining of similar symptoms," Nkosi said.

When teachers rushed to the boys' home to inform their mother, they found she was on her way to the hospital with their younger brother, a five-year-old, who had been vomiting and suffering from stomach cramps too.

Nkosi has clarified reports that stated that it was the was the seven and 10-year-old that died.

"At the hospital, they did all they could to save them but the five-year-old and 10-year-old, unfortunately, could not make it. The other one is in [the] high care unit at the hospital," she said.

The seven-year-old is receiving urgent medical attention at the Thelle Mogoerane Hospital.

Nkosi added that the boys were in good health before they went to school.

"There is a tenant who has lived at the back of [their] house for many years. He offered them food before they went to school. And we are suspecting that it is that food that has led to this...," Nkosi added.

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi visited the family and the school on Wednesday and has since appointed an independent team to establish the cause of the deaths and to verify all available statements from the school and the parents.

Education department spokesperson Steve Mabona told News24 that the department would continue offering counselling services to the school and the family.

"We will focus on the forensic investigation that [we] will be conducting, just to understand the cause of the incident.

"The team will go visit the school and interact with all stakeholders there, and also visit the family to collect information. It will then give us a report," Mabona said.

"A psychosocial team has already started with counselling at the school because some of the [pupils] could not cope," Mabona said.  

Nkosi added that funeral arrangements have not yet been finalised.

"We are not sure about the date for the funeral at this stage, but we are working closely with the MEC and other people. We are also waiting to hear on the cause...," Nkosi said.