22 teens have been found dead inside a South African night club.
Over the weekend, teenagers gathered at Enyobeni Tavern in East London, South Africa to celebrate birthdays and passing their final exams. The tavern promoted a “hookah, food, and alcohol” event to which the patrons were attending when disaster struck. People began collapsing to their deaths as they danced. Police Minister Bheki Cele said in a public statement:
“They died as they danced. They dance, fall, and die. Literally.”
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Among the victims were teenagers, ranging from ages 13-20. After seeing others literally drop dead, it caused a panic and people began to stampede toward the exit. Cele added that it was obvious the tavern was filled with kids because an adult might have noticed something was wrong beforehand:
“Others would just feel dizzy, sleep on the sofa, die. It tells you the story that they were all kids because somebody should have taken note.”
One survivor of the incident, Sinovuyo Monyane, told AFP that she “passed out” during the stampede and wasn’t awoken until later when someone poured water on her. It was reported by Monyane that attendees were trying to wake up the dead by pouring water over them, mistakenly believing that they were just drunk:
“I got up and realized that there were bodies lying around. I saw people being poured water, but those people did not even move. I could have died.”
So awful. She continued in her testimony and recalled a “strong smell” being in the air during the chaos:
“I was running out of breath and there was a strong smell of some type of spray in the air. We thought it was pepper spray.”
22 people were killed early that morning, and for a while the reason remained a mystery, but police believe they may have discovered the answer to what happened. At first, they believed maybe the panicked stampede had caused the teens to be trampled to death, but that was quickly ruled out. Then, they argued with the idea of poisoning — either in the drinks and food or the hookahs. Unathi Binqose, a government official on safety, told AFP:
“The suspicion is that it is something either they ingested through drinks, food, or something they inhaled.”
It is believed that there may have been a gas leak in the facility which contributed to the deaths. Investigators are currently waiting on toxicology reports to return so they can get more information. So tragic…
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa offered his “deepest condolences” via Twitter to the families of the victims, who died during South Africa’s Youth Month. He expressed concern about the situation and said the tavern “should be off limits to persons under the age of 18”.
This tragedy is made even more grave by its occurrence during Youth Month – a time during which we celebrate young people, advocate and advance opportunities for improved socio-economic conditions for the youth of our nation.
— Cyril Ramaphosa ???????? (@CyrilRamaphosa) June 26, 2022
Parents and citizens of East London are angry — and rightfully so. It’s illegal in South Africa for people under the age of 18 to drink alcohol. That means Enyobeni Tavern was knowingly distributing alcohol and drugs to underage children! WTF!
The Eastern Cape Liquor Board has revoked the tavern’s alcohol license following the incident. They have also assured they will be seeking criminal charges against the bar and its owner. In a public release, though, the board seems to be blaming the parents of the deceased for the incident! Yikes! CEO Dr. Nombuyiselo Makala said:
“As the Board, we have always been forthright in our condemnation and fight against the sale of alcohol to the underage. We have also consistently taken every necessary step against any liquor outlet that is found to have sold alcohol to the underage. The call is on the parents to see that their kids are kept well, the call is on the community to say we can’t allow our kids to die.”
If the board fights so hard to keep liquor out of the hands of children, why was this bar allowed to stay open and serve underage people for so long? Shouldn’t “every necessary step” include regular inspections of local clubs and bars? This one was filled to the brim with children and somehow no one noticed! It also seems very insensitive to tell parents who have just lost their young children that they should’ve been doing better parenting…
It’s truly an awful situation for everyone involved. Hopefully there will be answers soon as to what actually happened to all those poor kids. Our hearts go out to the families and loved ones of the victims.