21 people killed in Enyobeni Tavern
East London police are still investigating the cause of the circumstances leading to the deaths. The provincial police commissioner, Nomthetheleli Mene, says an initial report indicates that a stampede took place inside the tavern.
Team of experts investigates the matter
Police Minister Bheki Cele has deployed a team of experts to investigate the circumstances behind the deaths.
Cele could not hold back his tears after seeing the bodies of the deceased. He says he has reliably been informed that there is no natural death among the dead.
The entertainment manager of Enyobeni Tavern, Promise Matinise, says there was a lack of manpower to deal with the overcrowding at the establishment.
Matinise says some patrons even forced their way into the tavern. He says they did everything possible to try and control the situation.
Parents speak out
Ntombizonke Mgangala’s 17-year-old child is among those who passed away. Mgangala says she was surprised to learn that her teenager had gone to the tavern.
Meanwhile, a father who lost two of his teenagers in the tragedy says he went looking for them when he heard that chaos had erupted at the tavern on Sunday morning- but was refused entry by police.
He says he later discovered the bodies of his 17 and 18-year-olds at the mortuary. The father says he was not aware of the incident and only heard the news at around about 4 am on Sunday morning.
Xolile Malangeni, a distraught father whose two children are reportedly among the dead, demands that the provincial Liquor Board revoke the tavern’s liquor license.
“I’m not feeling well at all. When you got two kids on that scene, it’s not right. l hope our government can take action. I don’t want to say the Liquour Board failed; even the police failed. If the police were patrolling, even Liquor Board the licence says two o’clock, this happened after three and the owner knows the rules.”
Residents call for the tavern to be shut down
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.
They claim that underage drinking is permitted there and that the tavern does not care about the safety of its customers.
Concerns and criminal charges
The Eastern Cape Liquor Board says it will lay criminal charges against the owner of the Enyobeni Tavern. 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.
The South African Council of Churches ( SACC) has raised questions over whether the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality had approved the initial structural plans for the Enyobeni Tavern.
SACC’s General Secretary Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana weighs in:
Police Spokesperson Brig Thembinkosi Kinana says not all the bodies have been identified yet.
“Six bodies remain unidentified in the local mortuary an appeal is made to the parents and relatives who may have not seen their children since the past weekend to please make time to make an inquiry by the mortuary. We are also calling on those parents whose children may have survived to please visit hospitals for medical checkups.”