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Some tuckshops continue to sell polony ‘kotas’

Written by Thabo Molelekwa

Despite the deadly listeriosis outbreak, tuck shops close to schools in Duduza are still serving school children ‘kotas’ with processed meat.

A ‘kota’ (from the word quarter) is a township sandwich. A quarter loaf of bread is hollowed out and filled with potato chips and layers of eggs and polony.

Fried chips used to prepare kota. (Photo credit: Health-e)

After Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi appealed to people not to eat processed meat because of the danger of listeriosis, the Department of Basic Education asked both parents and vendors not to supply food to learners with processed meat products.

The source of listeriosis was traced after children at a Soweto crèche ate polony sandwiches produced in the Enterprise factory in Limpopo that has been identified as the source of the outbreak.

When Health-e News visited Phumula Primary School in Vosloorus, the vendors had stopped selling processed food to the kids. “I sell chips and Russians on daily basis but I have stopped for now as we are told it makes children sick,” said Masesi Thela, a vendor at the school. Thela now sells snacks, sweets and rolls.

But in Duduza township, a kilometre away from Esibonisiwe Primary school is Fantoni Sithole’s tuck shop. A queue of school learners are waiting for their kotas after school.

Relies on kotas

According to Sithole, he relies on kotas: “I cannot sell chips only because I won’t be making any profit. If someone buys a R17 kota, how will I make it without a Russian or Vienna?”

Thembisile Hlatshwayo, who has a seven-year old son, said she buys a kota at this tuck shop every day after school for her child.

“I do not cook during the day, so I buy bread and chips or a kota for my son, then later we cook,” she said, indicating the R15 kota made of chips, a Russian, cheese, a slice of polony, atchaar and tomato sauce.

However, Hlatshwayo has struggled to prepare her child’s lunch box since the listeriosis outbreak: “I am use to be giving him, bread and polony with Rama for lunch box.”

Two streets from Sithole’s tuckshop, is Gertrude Maseko’s tuckshop called Esdudleni.

“I have stopped selling kotas until the outbreak is sorted out. It is tough but I also sell ribs and coldrinks, and I will stick to that for now,” she said. “I don’t want other people and their kids to get sick.”

Dr Mojisola Kupolati, a nutritionist from University of Pretoria, said that parents need to explore healthier alternative to polony and Russians. She suggests these alternatives:

  • Potato salad with chicken curry and a fruit.
  • Omelette sandwich and a fruit.
  • Egg sandwich and a fruit.
  • Pilchard sandwich and a fruit.
  • Rice with beans and a fruit.
  • Cheese with vegetable sandwich and a fruit.
  • Peanut butter sandwich and a fruit.

About the author

Thabo Molelekwa

Thabo Molelekwa joined OurHealth citizen journalists project in 2013 and went on to become an intern reporter in 2015. Before joining Health-e News, Thabo was a member of the Treatment Action Campaign’s Vosloorus branch. He graduated from the Tshwane University of Technology with a diploma in Computer Systems and started his career at Discovery Health as a claims assessor. In 2016 he was named an International HIV Prevention Reporting Fellow with the International Centre for Journalists and was a finalist in the Discovery Health Journalism Awards competition in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Thabo also completed a feature writing course at the University of Cape Town in 2016. In 2017 he became a News reporter , he is currently managing the Citizen Journalism programme.You can follow him on @molelekwa98