The trial against the owners of Enyobeni tavern, where a tragic incident claimed the lives of 21 young people in June last year, is reaching its climax in the East London Regional Court.
The defence is slated to present its closing arguments, marking a pivotal moment in the legal proceedings.
The state had concluded its case in September, having called several witnesses, including neighbours and individuals present during the incident.
The accused tavern owners are facing charges of selling alcohol to minors and permitting underage patrons into their establishment.
Throughout the trial, the court has heard testimonies detailing the events leading up to the tragic incident. The defence, led by tavern owner Vuyokazi Ndevu and her husband Siyakhangela, has consistently maintained their innocence in the face of the charges.
In the recent phase of the trial, the defence presented three witnesses, including Vuyokazi Ndevu and Siyakhangela. Their testimonies aimed to dispute the charges levied against them. The final witness called by the defence was Sivuyile Gqamlana, the cashier on duty during the night of the incident.
Gqamlana informed the court that he was not aware that the fine he was asked to pay at the time of his arrest constituted an admission of guilt. This revelation raises questions about the legal proceedings and adds complexity to the case.
As the defence presents its closing arguments, the court will weigh the evidence presented by both sides to determine the culpability of the accused in the untimely deaths of the 21 young people.
Enyobeni Tavern trial underway in East London