FRANCISTOWN: The gravity of the condemned primary schools feed escalated dramatically last Friday with the number of affected schools going up to 10 from an earlier reported five.
The number of destroyed bags of sorghum meal, maize and beans declared unfit for consumption has also risen dramatically from an earlier reported total of 60 bags to about 197 so far destroyed since the beginning of the year. The condemned food supplied to the primary schools that was infested with weevils, mould and worms was to be consumed by pupils at primary schools within the northern city.
Early last week senior Francistown City Council (FCC) officials led by council clerk, Mompati Seleka also told The Monitor sister publication, Mmegi that they only became aware of the schools feed being in a bad state at the beginning of May.
This is despite glaring evidence suggesting that the problem of food supply mishandled or poorly stored at the schools has been prevalent. FCC chief public health officer, Ookame Kelaeng when giving a picture of the extent of the problem of condemned food supply to schools last Thursday had indicated that only 60 bags of sorghum meal, maize and beans were discovered to have been destroyed at the beginning of May.
He had even said that the problem has affected only five primary schools, in a way trying to water down the extent of the damage. His colleague, secretary for education, Leslie Botsie was insistent that only four schools were affected by the foodstuffs that had turned bad.
It has now turned out that a sizeable number of sorghum meal, maize and beans bags that were destroyed recently have been condemned as unfit for human consumption in recent months.
From January to May this year, 197 bags of sorghum meal, maize and beans were destroyed, which were supplies to the following primary schools; Tagala, Maradu, Phatlhogo, Mokaleng, Our Lady of the Desert, Lekgaba and Mahudiri. On Friday the outgoing city clerk Seleka issued the exact figure of the supplies that were destroyed by the FCC environmental health inspectorate team. The Monitor is also in possession of condemnation certificates of the sorghum meal, maize and beans bags that were infested.
The 197 figure of condemned bags of foodstuffs is also likely to rise owing to the fact that the number of
In total, 10 primary schools were affected instead of five as earlier revealed by council officials during a meeting with The Monitor news crew.
Last week, Seleka conceded that there was an element of imprudence in relation to handling the sorghum meal particularly those stored at schools around the city. He said that the issue has not affected the council’s main warehouse that stores the bulk feed at its Area G warehouse.
The infestations at the schools in particular were exacerbated by the fact that the schools’ storerooms do not have proper ventilation and encouraged quick moulding and spread of weevils and worms. The matter, he said, becomes even more challenging when schools have closed given that the storerooms are not the best of facilities to store the food supplies.
During the interview, Seleka had said that he still believes they must have an intervention plan and go to the schools to check the inventory of food leftovers upon closing schools with the view to finding a central place to store the food and apply the requisite monitoring so that food does not rot faster. One of the suggested monitoring tools was to place the storages at the schools under the council’s management radar so that they are able to monitor consumption trends closely.
The FCC has also opted to look at the Dumela Industrial site warehouse so that when schools close, they can be able to store the leftovers for proper storage.
In short, they are saying there were incidents where food was found infested at schools. But, he insisted that they did not feed the pupils with the infested food.
“We have realised that it’s all about strong management and we are going to dedicate officers to man the schools’ storages.
We want to get regular updates from the schools.” “At the end of the day we duly apologise as people ought to know how their pupils are fed at the schools,” Seleka owned up the rot.