250 govt workers in food poisoning crisis at lodge

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CHIREDZI – Some 250 delegates comprising school heads, Ministry of Education officials and SDCs’ executive members had a torrid time at Westwood Lodge in Chiredzi after most of them suffered running stomachs due to suspected food poisoning.

The delegates drawn five each from 37 schools in Masvingo were booked at the lodge from Thursday to Friday for a Schools Development Committee (SDC) induction workshop.

Lodge owner and managing director Obert Ngwenya, who is also a Zanu PF councillor for Ward 2 in Chiredzi vehemently denied the allegations. He said there was no such thing that happened at the lodge.

“Look this is the group of people which was here yesterday, nobody seems ill and everybody is here and these people are about to have their lunch, somebody is just trying to tarnish my image,” said Ngwenya.

However, The Mirror whose reporter also attended the workshop established that Dr Daniel Makuyana had to be called the next morning to attend to the crisis. The conference then ran on a far dwindled number after 20% of the affected guests left in a huff.

“Most of the delegates had running stomachs throughout the night. Guests literally spent the night in the toilets, some were sweating and a large number could not attend the workshop the next morning as they were seriously ill. It was terrible,” said a source.

Makuyana confirmed attending to sick guests but declined to give details when he realised that he was speaking to The Mirror.

The Mirror established that Makuyana was given a room at the lodge from where he examined the guests. He later went to a pharmacy in town where he brought back loperamide tablets which he distributed among those affected.

“Yes, I attended to sick people at the lodge and by the way who are you? I am not allowed to speak to the Press,” said Makuyana in a quick about turn.

Masvingo Deputy Provincial Education Director, (PED) Micho Hove is the highest official from the Ministry who attended the workshop and his officials facilitated.

However, Acting Masvingo PED, Shylatte Mhike said Hove had no right to comment on the issue since he was only at the workshop as her representative.

“I sent Hove there as my representative and he therefore has no right to comment on the issue. I am in Kwekwe and however, have not heard anything about that,” said Mhike.

The head cook and the manager of the lodge, Caroline Sanjama went to the workshop which was taking place in the garden and apologized to the delegates, The Mirror confirmed. Sanjama also promised to investigate the cause of the problem and report back to the guests.

“Many people left before the end of the workshop because of the food poisoning. There were far less people on the second day,” said another delegate.

“After lunch I started to have some stomach pains and then a serious diarrhea,” said a delegate who refused to be named. – Masvingo Mirror