FRANCISTOWN: Tragedy has struck a Tati Siding family after eight of its members, including a two-year-old child, ate poisonous mushrooms commonly known as Dithuthuntshwane in Setswana.
Seven of the family members in varying conditions are now hospitalised at Nyangabgwe Referral Hospital (NRH). One has been discharged from yesterday while another is expected to be yet discharged today. According to a source privy to the incident who did not want to be named, the disaster struck around 4 pm on Tuesday after two elderly women from the family went to the bush to collect firewood. While collecting firewood from the bush in Tati Siding, the two women mistook the poisonous plants for edible mushrooms (a Setswana delicacy called Maboa).
The women are reported to have harvested poisonous mushrooms. Then what was supposed to be afternoon meal for the family turned tragic when the women returned home. According to the source, the women then asked their elderly male neighbour to confirm whether the mushrooms they had collected were edible or not. In response, the old man is said to have answered in the affirmative. The old man, the source added, then took a bite from one of the mushrooms to show that they were indeed not toxic. After eating the mushrooms meal, the family members whose ages range from two to 46, fell ill.
“They vomited, experienced running stomachs and lost energy. Some Good Samaritans who stay in New Stands in Tati Siding came to the assistance of the family after one of its members frantically asked for transport through social media to ferry the family to Tati Siding Clinic for medical help,” the source explained with tears welling up in her eyes. Fearing for the worst, health officials at Tati Siding Clinic then transferred the family to NRH when their conditions later deteriorated. Asked if the matter was reported to the police, the source said: “The matter was not reported to the police because there was no foul play. What happened is just an unfortunate incident that can befall any family. We will never harvest anything from the bush in future to prevent incidents such as these from happening again.”
However, the source expressed displeasure at some comments circulating on social media insinuating that one of the family's neighbours poisoned their maize meal which was been cooked at the traditional cooking place. Efforts to get a comment from the family were futile.
Meanwhile, family member who spoke to Mmegi said that they were very uncomfortable talking to the media about what happened.