The Eastern Cape Liquor Board says it will lay criminal charges against the owner of the Enyobeni tavern at Scenery Park in the Eastern Cape, where at least 21 young people were killed on Sunday morning.
The board says it has also revoked the liquor license of the establishment.
In a statement, the Board’s CEO Dr. Nombuyiselo Makala says the owner blatantly contravened the liquor act by serving alcohol to minors.
Meanwhile, The National Liquor Traders (NLTA) convener Lucky Ntimane says the blame lies with the owner of the establishment.
“This was a totally avoidable incident, and we clearly hold the tavern owner liable for whatever has happened there because everyone who goes into a tavern or place of enjoyment is at the hands of the person who owns that establishment. We’re sending our condolences to the families who have lost their loved ones in this tragic incident. These incidents happen way after the closing hours of such a tavern, also that there were underage children in that establishment, this should never have happened. This tavern should be closed.”
The tavern owner, Siyakhangela Ndevu has committed to working with law enforcement agencies to get to the bottom of the matter. “As a businessman l didn’t think this would happen. My apologies to the affected families. Let’s allow the police to do their work.”
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Team of experts to investigate the tragedy
Police Minister Bheki Cele says the deceased are aged between 13 and 17. The Minister has deployed a team of experts to investigate the circumstances behind the deaths. Cele says the team will report to him on a daily basis.
Cele could not hold back his tears after seeing the bodies of the deceased.
“The scene I have seen here inside it takes it doesn’t matter what kind of a heart you have, first the sight of those bodies sleeping there but when you look at their faces you realise that you are dealing with kids, kids, kids, kids you have heard the story that they are young but when you see them you realise its a disaster 21 of them too many.”
Cele describes the Eastern Cape tavern deaths as a tragedy – the youngest victim was only 13 years old:
Residents in the area are calling for the establishment to be shut down as they claim that it is profit-driven and does not have the interest of the patrons at heart.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has also sent his condolences saying that the law should take its course.
The National Liquor Traders Association (NLTA) has urged liquor traders not to chase profit at the expense of patrons’ safety and responsible trading.
“We are saddened by what happened in the EC and East London in particular, to talk about a 13-year-old and a tavern in one sentence, we didn’t think we had to do this in our lifetime. It is very terrible what happened there. We are saying it is a massacre because someone’s actions caused the death of those black, young lives, as it were. It was wholly preventable but someone put profits before the lives of our people and it is not acceptable.”
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