An investigation is underway after at least 22 people were found dead inside a famous tavern in East London.
In a statement, Eastern Cape Police spokesperson Brigadier Tembinko Kinana said the deceased were reportedly aged between 18-20 but could be younger. Investigators also said a party was held at the tavern to celebrate the end of winter school exams, as reported by Sky News.
South African police are confirming that 22 youths have been found found dead at Enyobeni tavern in East London in the early hours of this morning.
The cause of death has not yet been established but could be linked to mass poisoning or a stampede pic.twitter.com/Ao18j7haKw
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“We will immediately be embarking on autopsies so we can know the probable cause of death. We are talking 22 bodies right now,” said Siyanda Manana, spokesperson for the Eastern Cape provincial health department.
There was reported speculation that those who died in the tavern could’ve died during a stampede or exposed to poison gas. However, club owner, Siyakhangela Ndevi, said he is uncertain about the events after he was called in early Sunday morning.
“I am still uncertain about what really happened, but when I was called in the morning I was told the place was too full and that some people were trying to force their way into the tavern. However, we will hear what the police say about the cause of death.”
South African president Cyril Ramamphosa offered his condolences to the victims’ families and said he was worried about the young people who were allowed to attend the tavern but the law has to conduct its investigation before taking further action.
“This tragedy is made even more grave by its occurrence during Youth Month – a time during which we… advocate and advance opportunities for improved socio-economic conditions for the youth of our nation,”.
The Department of Community Safety in the Eastern Cape , south Africa have confirmed that the 17 people killed in a tavern were all underage. pic.twitter.com/nOqgqsVwHy
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A teen who lives close to the popular tavern says they believe it should be closed to the public due to the number of deaths. Additionally, they said it was popular among teens in the neighborhood because it would sell alcohol without asking for any form of identification.
“Everyone wants it closed down because they sell alcohol to under-age children. Everyone is angry, everyone is sad because of what happened.”
BREAKING: At least 17 people have been found dead in a nightclub in South Africa's East London city, local media report.
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