She went to play with her friends, but when she came back home she was caked in white powder and struggling to stand up. Just two hours later, three-year-old Jordan Louis (main photograph) was dead.
The little girl, who died on Sunday, was playing with a group of friends near a set of bags which had been illegally dumped on the road near her Delft home on the corner of Silver Sands and Symphony Way.
The local Community Police Forum (CPF) said the children had inhaled dangerous fumes coming from toxic chemicals inside the bags.
“She just came home with powder all over her body and her mother went to go wash her off,” the child’s grandmother, Ethol Chana, told the Cape Argus on Monday.
“Then she put her to bed, but she only slept for a minute before she woke up crying and couldn’t walk properly.”
The toddler was rushed to hospital, where she died two hours later. Chana said the family was distraught and was struggling to come to terms with the sudden loss.
“I am very sad… They need to do something, because if they leave it someone else will lose their child. They need to find the company that dumped the bags.”
The city’s disaster management spokesman, Wilfred Solomons-Johannes, said six other children were admitted to a hospital in Elsies River after being exposed to the chemicals on Sunday. They were later transferred to Tygerberg hospital where they were still receiving treatment.
A Delft CPF official later said that a further 15 children had been admitted to hospital.
Three policemen were also admitted to hospital after they inhaled the fumes when they responded to urgent calls from residents on Sunday.
Solomons-Johannes said the bags had contained a mixture of chemicals including sodium nitrate, which is predominantly used in fertilisers; trisodium phosphate, which is found in many cleaning products; gum powder, used to secure dentures; and hydrogenated glycosides.
He said samples of the chemicals had been taken and that the city as well as provincial and national environmental authorities would be investigating the matter. On Monday, the residents paced nervously around the cordoned off section of the street where the chemicals had been dumped as a hazmat response team cleared away the bags.
Resident Maxwell Abental said illegal dumping was a massive problem in the area. He said the bags of toxic chemicals had been there for three weeks before the incident.
“The problem is we don’t have electricity. No street lights or anything. Bakkies just come here at night and dump whatever they want all over the road. Now we are living in fear. We don’t know if we will get sick.”
Queeneth Hulushe, another resident, said that there had been white powder all over the street on Sunday. She said that her daughter had been struggling with her breathing after being exposed to the chemicals.
Hazmat response services sweep up the toxic chemicals in Delft. Photo: Willem Law
Mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith said dumping was a huge problem in Cape Town. He said there were around 958 illegal dumping hot spots that had to be monitored and addressed.
He said Jordan Louis’s death pointed out that dumping was not just an aesthetic issue.
“It is clearly an environmental and health risk.”
Smith said he wanted to see police come down hard on the company responsible for dumping the dangerous chemicals.
“It has caused a serious consequence and they can’t get away with it.”
He urged residents to take a stand against illegal dumping by regularly reporting companies or individuals that did it. “It’s about time these crooks are exposed.”
Jordan’s grandfather, Bennett Chana, said a funeral for the toddler was set to be held on Saturday.
By Kieran Legg. Source: IOL News