President Cyril Ramaphosa has reiterated that children and teenagers are not permitted to enter drinking establishments such as bars or taverns.
A funeral is underway for the 21 young people who lost their lives at the Enyobeni Tavern in Eastern Cape last month.
Forensic investigators are examining the evidence that led to the deaths. However, a stampede has been ruled out as a contributing factor.
Delivering the eulogy at the Scenery Park Sports Ground President Ramaphosa says, “We express our grief as a nation but we are also here to reflect on the tragedy that has befallen us. The young people we are burying lost their lives in a tavern. A tavern is not a place where young, underage children should be going to. It is a place for older people.”
At the symbolic funeral on Wednesday, Ramaphosa described the deaths as heartbreaking.
“Our hearts are broken. We have lost our children here. There are parents who will not get to hug or kiss their son or daughter again. There are grandparents who will not be blessed to see their grandson or granddaughter growing up and having their own families. In the classrooms of our schools, where these children used to go, there are now empty chairs. In one night, here in Scenery Park, 21 bright lives were snuffed out.”
Meanwhile, the President has scoffed at criticism that he has no business to attend the funeral. Earlier the ANC Youth League in the area questioned the capability of the president and the state to protect young people in Scenery Park. It said his presence will mean nothing to the youth in the area because he has failed to deal with the Eskom crisis. But Ramaphosa says the lives of young people are more important than any challenge facing the country.
The National Liquor Traders’ Council (NLTC) says the owners of the Enyobeni Tavern in the Eastern Cape failed to protect the youth from alcohol abuse.
The NTLC’s Spokesperson Lucky Ntimane explains, “As someone who was born in the village, as someone who understands that in order to raise a child it takes a village. I am here to admit that the tavern owners have failed to play their part as part of the village. We could have done more to prevent these deaths, Mr President. We are willing and stand ready to work with civil society and government so that we can contribute positively to our society. We cannot have a situation where we mention a 13-year-old and a tavern in one sentence. It should not be and it ends today.”
Stampede ruled out
The death caused by a stampede at the eNyobeni tavern has been ruled out, according to Eastern Cape Health.
The department is still awaiting the analytical laboratory findings from additional testing, nevertheless, because clothing items were also delivered.
Deputy Director General at the health department, Dr Litha Matiwane has again appealed for patience from families while tests are being conducted.
“We are committed to engage with the respective families, as and when we are in receipt of the analytical laboratory results. At the present, we have handed some clothing of the deceased to the SAPS where we are informed that they have been sent for further analysis to Cape Town. It is very important that we base our findings on evidence that has been collected as per those results.”