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WATCH | Bheki Cele breaks down at Enyobeni Tavern tragedy

Police minister Bheki Cele was heartbroken by the tragedy.
Police minister Bheki Cele was heartbroken by the tragedy.

Police minister Bheki Cele was overcome with emotion on Sunday while speaking about the deaths of at least 20 young people at Enyobeni Tavern in the Eastern Cape over the weekend.

The minister rushed to the tavern in Scenery Park on Sunday morning after news that 17 patrons had inexplicably died in the facility. Another three died in hospital while two remain in hospital in critical condition. Police are investigating the cause of the deaths.

Speaking outside the East London mortuary, Cele said what he witnessed inside the tavern was horrifying and he could not bring himself to look at all the bodies.

He then broke down and was excused.

Earlier, Cele told parents they needed to take responsibility for their children’s whereabouts to prevent such tragedies from happening. This after he had learnt the tavern was frequented by many minors, some as young as 13.

“I stay with my boy who is in university in Cape Town. He came back home after 11pm on Friday night and I sat him down and told him you don’t come home after 11pm,” Cele said.

The Daily Dispatch said initial speculation was the patrons were exposed to some form of poison as none of the bodies they could see had visible injuries. 

Bodies were seen lying as if patrons collapsed suddenly while dancing or in conversation. Some bodies were seen slumped across chairs and over tables.

Daily Dispatch said family members called out for those they suspected had been in the tavern but were barred from entering the premises.

Buffalo City mayor Xola Pakati called on law enforcement authorities to leave no stone unturned in their investigations.

“What has happened can be equated to a massacre,” he said. 

Tourism minister Lindiwe Sisulu said townships were not isolated parts of the tourism industry as young international tourists enjoy township tours to get a sense of SA’s culture and vibrancy. 

“This tragic incident which is being reported by international news platforms requires that we pay attention.

“As a mother, my heart breaks as I imagine the anguish visited upon the parents of these young people. As a leader, my immediate concern must be to provide a proper understanding of this moment and how we can support those affected,” she said. 

The DA said it was “shocked” and “saddened” by the incident. The party also called on police to investigate and bring perpetrators to book. 



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