Cornelia le Roux, The Citizen
In what is an unprecedented prosecution, two street vendors arrested for selling space cookies to at least 90 young children have been charged with attempted murder.
This report from The Citizen, 25 September 2023.
Amukelani Nyulunga, 19, and Ofentse Maluleka, 21, were arrested after 90 pupils at Pulamandibogo Primary School, in Soshanguve Block Y, had to be rushed to the Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital on Wednesday after consuming muffins suspected to have been laced with dagga (cannabis).
Suspects accused of selling alleged ‘space cake’ muffins to pupils
The pair has been accused of selling the R2 muffins to the children (ranging from Grade R to 7) who then reportedly experienced nausea and stomach cramps.
Some of the pupils also started vomiting and “acting strangely” with a parent telling the Sowetan her child was “seeing Spider-Man”.
The National Prosecution Authority (NPA) North Gauteng spokesperson Lumka Mahanjana confirmed the charges against the two men.
“The men are facing nine counts of attempted murder, for selling muffins laced with a substance with narcotic effect, to children.”
Community call on cops to find ‘kingpin’
Members of the Soshanguve community picketed outside the court, demanding for the suspects to be denied bail.
Community leader David Nkosi told Jacaranda FM he believed the duo were working for someone.
“Those people deserve to rot in prison. They work for someone; I know very well that these young boys can’t just do things like that. They are under someone.
“We want to see the kingpin, and he must rot in jail as well.”
The matter has been postponed to 29 September for further investigation and a formal bail application.
‘Space cake’ muffins claim: Far out or for real?
Sifting through the facts provided by authorities, there however appear to be some “missing ingredients” to render the claim that it was “space cake” muffins foolproof.
Were muffins, children tested for traces of dagga?
Speaking to Marizka Coetzer from The Citizen, cannabis activist and Fields of Green for All founder Myrtle Clarke said it was alarming that media publications have been “running wild with the narrative” without questioning whether the muffins and children had been tested to confirm that it contained dagga.
Possibility of food poisoning
She said it appears that the children fell ill almost instantly, which is not generally associated with the ingestion of dagga.
“It could be food poisoning or something else they ate,” Clarke added.
Dr Nellie Sibisi-Zimu, a general practitioner who spesialises in psychiatry, told the Sowetan that dagga generally has a relaxing effect on a person’s mind.
Sibisi-Zimu said that in the case of the pupils, instead of experiencing this relaxing state, they fell violently ill, vomiting and having stomach cramps.
Other narcotic substances?
“The unfortunate thing that needs to be discussed is if we are talking about pure dagga or dagga mixed with something else,” said Sibisi-Zimu.
Sibisi-Zimu said the kids need to be monitored.
“There needs to be an expectation that the central nervous system may be affected due to this because now it’s just gastric systems. But there are many elements in this, maybe food poisoning.”