KZN declares war on mushrooms
The KwaZulu-Natal government and eThekwini municipality have declared war on wild mushrooms following the deaths of six people poisoned by mushrooms picked in a nearby field.
The Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs yesterday confirmed that a sixth person, Sifiso Bhekuyise Ntuli, died this week after eating mushrooms that were picked from the same field where Bheki Mkhize had found the deadly mushrooms that wiped his family out last week.
Mkhize, 29, had taken the mushrooms to his Dassenhoek home on Tuesday last week for his girlfriend, Xoli Buthelezi, to make a curry for his two sisters, Nozipho and Nombulelo, and his 17-month-old child, Emenhle Mkhize.
The family started hallucinating, vomiting and losing physical energy.
Within five days, everyone save Nozipho's eight-month-old baby, Asanda, had died.
However, Asanda is being medically tested for poison as she was breast-fed after her mother had consumed the meal.
Yesterday, Durban mayor James Nxumalo and municipal officials publicly destroyed mushrooms growing in the wild.
"Following such tragedy in the city we took a decision to launch an offensive campaign to destroy wild mushrooms.
"Our officials will continue to educate people not to eat any mushrooms from the wild if they are not sure," Nxumalo said.
The city will send officials to the fields in Mariannhill to clear mushrooms as they spring up.
Ian MacDonald, from the provincial department of agriculture and environmental affairs, said that, with more than 14000 mushroom species, it was difficult to differentiate between poisonous and edible ones.
Agriculture and environmental MEC Meshack Radebe said the government would pay for the family's funerals.
The department has bought cattle for relatives while five funeral parlours have donated coffins.