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Gauteng Education Department Alarmed as 15 Pupils Hospitalized After Eating Cannabis-Infused “Space Cakes”

Pupils from 2 schools needed medical treatment

Fifteen pupils from two schools in Gauteng have been admitted to hospital after eating cannabis-infused “space cakes”. News 24 reported on 10 April 2022 that the Gauteng Education Department has expressed concern over the incident and has warned pupils against buying unknown substances.

Department spokesperson Steve Mabona said 11 pupils from Randfontein High School on the West Rand were rushed to various medical facilities on Thursday, 7 April 2022 after they fell ill during school hours.

He added two of the pupils were discharged while nine were admitted to hospital in a critical condition.

In a separate incident on Saturday, 9 April 2022 four Grade 12 pupils from Mamellong Secondary School in Tsakane, Ekurhuleni, were also hospitalised after buying “space cakes” on their way to extra classes.

“We are really concerned and dissatisfied at the ongoing consumption of these ‘space cakes’ where learners become sick and are often hospitalised.

“We urge learners to refrain from purchasing or consuming unknown substances that put their health and lives at risk.

“The conditions of these learners are being closely monitored to ensure their speedy recovery and safe return to their families,” Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said.


Kids bought the space cakes to support classmate wanting new matric dance jacket

Meanwhile, a parent whose child is among 11 pupils from Randfontein High School who fell sick after eating space muffins has claimed the children bought the cakes thinking they were supporting their classmate who wanted to buy a jacket for his matric dance. 

The mother, who cannot be named to protect the identity of her 17-year-old son, told the Sowetan that she received a call at 1.50pm on Thursday, informing her that children were collapsing at the school and some had been taken to hospital.

“On my way there, I almost [had] an accident. I was crying because I did not know what condition my son was in. It was traumatic.

“When I arrived there, his eyes were red and swollen. He was also feeling dizzy. I took him to Lenmed [Randfontein Private] Hospital, where he was admitted and discharged yesterday [Saturday]. Some of the children were in ICU. On my son, doctors told me that test revealed it was cannabis,” she said.

“What we don’t understand is that how did it happen because selling at the school is not allowed. They are learners. They supported the child because they were understanding of his situation. The cakes were R10 each.

She said her son informed her that as schoolmates they had no suspicion that there was something wrong with them.


Pupil has been suspended, but parents unhappy

School principal Amy Appelcryn said in an incident report that they only learnt something was wrong when one of the pupils who had consumed the cakes went to the office alerting staff that he was not feeling well.

Just as the pupil spoke to the staff, he collapsed, prompting teachers to rush and verify who were the other pupils who had consumed the cakes, she said in the report. “They (head of discipline and his team) found numerous Grade 12 learners who started feeling ill and eventually found the seller. He initially lied to us but eventually the truth came out. His father was contacted and came to school.

“He [ the pupil in a meeting where his father was present] still avoided the truth, but we at least got some information – he bakes these space cakes at a friend’s house in Finsbury and sells them at school…

“All learners knew exactly what they were eating They were all aware that this learner is selling. The code of conduct of this school is very clear about selling anything on the premises and about not reporting questionable activities.”

But the mother disputed that the children could have consumed the cakes knowing what was inside.

“I don’t believe that. Do you think if the children knew that what they were eating could harm them they would have gone ahead and bought it?

“I think the principal is just trying to throw our children under the bus,” she said.

Appelcryn has suspended a pupil 

She added that the school had planned to meet with parents of the affected learners to discuss further steps and their rights.

A meeting would also be held with all grade 12s to discuss the incident and the choices they make. She said it have been determined that all the learners were aware of what they were eating and that it was in violation of the school’s code of conduct.

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