THE Vokola community in Filabusi, Insiza district, Matabeleland South has expressed concern over the “mysterious deaths” of pupils in their local schools in the past month.

Two pupils have died at Mkwabene Primary School in Vokola area while two have also died at Mkwabene Secondary School, with three reported to be admitted in hospital.

All the victims succumbed to the same ailment whose symptoms include pain in the hands which spreads to the head, then they nose bleed and die within three days.

Ward 7 councillor Mr Thabani Malele confirmed the deaths of the pupils, saying the community leaders and villagers had requested an urgent meeting today to discuss the matter.

He said villagers also met on Friday and raised concern over the incidents. It was resolved that they meet today with traditional leaders and school authorities to discuss the matter.

“Parents have indeed approached me raising concern over the deaths. They say the incidents are suspicious and they want the cases investigated. I cannot say much at the moment as we are yet to meet and get a full insight,” said Clr Malele.

Vokola area headman, Mr Lovemore Mafika, said the community suspected witchcraft in the incidents as they were too similar and the rate of deaths was alarming.

He said the community did not believe it was a natural ailment as all pupils exhibited the same symptoms and would only be sick for three days before they die, hence an immediate investigation was required.

“Surely, the cause of the problem and solution should be found as soon as possible before more children die. If it was nature, why haven’t any pupils died in the past month in the neighbouring schools?” said Mr Mafika.

Reached for comment, the headmaster of Mkwabane Secondary School, Mr Melusi Zvekureba, said he could not speak over the phone and invited The Chronicle to come down to the area.

The Provincial Education Director (PED) for Matabeleland South, Mr Lifias Masukume, said he had not received a report on the matter.

“This is news to me but we will contact the school and investigate the matter,” he said.

Mpilo Central Hospital Clinical Director, Dr Solwayo Ngwenya, advised the school and community to quickly report the matter to health officials.

He said the case could be an outbreak of a certain disease that should be proven by a clinical test before blaming the illnesses on witchcraft.

In March 2018, a community in Gokwe shut down Kana Mission High School following alleged satanism incidents that have been affecting pupils.

Most of the victims were girls and they had swollen bellies while others lost their voices. Others complained of headaches and backaches.

The pupils allegedly told their parents and school authorities that two female teachers were initiating them into satanism.