26 Jun 2022, 14:14
Update : 26 Jun 2022, 20:06

20 people die in South African pub, cause unclear


 EAST LONDON, South Africa, June 26, 2022 (BSS/AFP) - At least 20 young
people have died at a township pub in South Africa's southern city of East
London, but the cause of the deaths is still unclear.

Senior officials from the provincial government rushed to the scene, where at
least six mortuary vehicles were lined up in the residential street waiting
to collect the bodies, according to an AFP correspondent.

Drinking is permitted in South African township pubs, commonly known as
taverns or shebeens which are sometimes located in family homes, where safety
regulations are rarely enforced.

"The number has increased to 20, three have died in hospital. But there are
still two who are very critical," the head of the provincial government
safety department Weziwe Tikana-Gxothiwe said on local TV.

A visibly shocked head of the Eastern Cape Province Oscar Mabuyane spoke from
outside the scene, a building surrounded by houses in an area called Scenery

"It's absolutely unbelievable, we can't understand it, losing 20 young lives
just like that," he told reporters, condemning "this unfortunate consumption,
unlimited consumption of liquor".
"You can't just trade in the middle of society like this and think that young
people are not going to experiment," he said.

Empty bottles of alcohol, wigs and even a pastel purple "Happy Birthday" sash
lay strewn on the dusty street outside the double-storey Enyobeni Tavern,
according to Unathi Binqose, a safety government official who arrived at the
scene at dawn.

- 'No obvious signs of injury' -

Provincial police spokesman brigadier Thembinkosi Kinana told AFP that police
were investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident.

He said the victims at Enyobeni Tavern were aged between 18 and 20 years, but
provincial community and safety department official Binqose said some could
be as young as 15.

Ruling out a stampede as the cause of death, Binqose told AFP "there are no
visible open wounds to those dead".

"Forensic (investigators) will take samples and test to see if there was any
poisoning of any sort," he said.

"One thing for sure, the place had a lot more people than it normally takes,"
he added.

A local newspaper website, DispatchLive, reported that "bodies are lying
strewn across tables, chairs and on the floor; with no obvious signs of

Binqose said he understood many of the patrons were students "celebrating
pens down, a party held after writing (high school) exams".

Local television showed police officers trying to calm down a crowd of
parents and onlookers gathered outside the club in the city, which lies on
the Indian Ocean coast, nearly 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) south of

"Parents whose children did not sleep at home are gathered here and they want
to enter the tavern to look for their loved ones," said Binqose.

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