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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Enyobeni Tavern Tragedy: 8 girls and 13 boys confirmed dead, youngest victim was 13

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More details are emerging in the Enyobeni Tavern tragedy where 21 minors died in yet mysterious circumstances with revelations that the youngest victim was just 13 years old.

Police minister Bheki Cele broke down in tears outside a morgue where he had viewed the bodies of the children, 8 girls, and 13 boys.

Police have since shed more light on the incident.

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Brig Tembinkosi Kinana said they were informed of the incident at around 4am after a call from community members.

Seventeen people had been found dead inside the premises while the others died in hospital. 

Cele confirmed that all those who had died in the tavern in Scenery Park, East London, were minors — aged between 13 and 17.

Earlier, police had said those who had died were between the ages of 18 and 20.

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The death toll had been confirmed to be 21 by Sunday afternoon. The cause of the tragedy has not yet been determined.

As Cele cried, families who had gathered at the morgue also broke down, some in disbelief, as they waited to be let into the premises to identify their children. 

Officials have since revealed they were still waiting for some families of the deceased to come forward and identify and claim their bodies.

Addressing community members outside the tavern earlier, Cele said a forensic team from Pretoria had been brought in to assist with investigations.

Cele said they initially received reports that a stampede had occurred but said evidence on the scene ruled this theory out.

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“But I cannot disclose to you what happened until I have been told by the investigating team.”

He however pointed out some faults they found at the tavern, including the fact that it had only one entry and exit point, was in a residential area and was seemingly open to underage children.

“We  need to come back to this area to see what is happening in the shebeens and not only come back once they have killed our kids.

“We need to check if they adhere to the laws but that is on us as police to ensure this happens. The call is on the government as the liquor board, the municipalities and the parents to ensure their kids are well. The call is on the community to say we can’t allow our kids to die,” Cele added.

The owner of the tavern, Siyakhangela Ngevu, earlier told eNCA he was not present when the incident happened.

He said he was told by security guards to rush to the scene after the incident had occurred. 

The tavern owner, who said he owns more than one tavern, said he arrived to chaotic scenes and many young children in the street. 

“Others were forcing themselves in. It was evident that the security guards at the gate were finding it difficult to control the situation.”

Ngevu said the high volume of people on Saturday night was not what they had expected.

On the deaths, Ngevu said he was not sure what had led to them but said he would not dismiss allegations that pepper spray had been sprayed, leading to the tragedy.

Read also: Watch: Parents denied access to Enyobeni Tavern, scene of mass deaths in East London

He said they usually barred children from entering the facility and once denied entry, those children usually loitered outside the premises.

“I didn’t mean for this to happen and I sympathise with them

Siyakhangela Ngevu, owner of Enyobeni tavern

He conveyed his condolences to the families. 

“I didn’t mean for this to happen and I sympathise with them.”

He called for calm and for police to be allowed to conduct their investigation. 

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