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WATCH | Sombre mood at Enyobeni tavern tragedy prayer meeting

Rev Kholeka Gaveni during a mass prayer meeting for the family of the victims who perished at the East London Enyobeni tavern.
Rev Kholeka Gaveni during a mass prayer meeting for the family of the victims who perished at the East London Enyobeni tavern.

Bereaved parents and families in Scenery Park, East London, gathered for a prayer meeting on Monday after the deaths of 21 young people at the Enyobeni tavern in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The cause of the tragedy is still under investigation by authorities. The Daily Dispatch reported initial speculation was that patrons were exposed to some form of poison as none of the bodies had visible injuries. 

The owner of the establishment denied allowing underaged patrons into the venue, while social media posts suggest otherwise. 

Moments before the tragedy, hundreds of young people had filled the street outside the establishment. 

Initially, speculation had been that the youngsters — mostly children — were there to celebrate the end of the school term, but a Facebook post on the tavern’s website showed it had earlier promoted two birthday parties booked to take place on the night of the tragedy.

The mother of a 17-year-old who died at the establishment told the SABC her child had a promising future and the family looked to her to get an education and make something of her life. She said the teen had saved money three weeks before the event.

The Buffalo City Metro Municipality said the tragedy was the worst seen in the metro. 

“We call on law enforcement agencies to leave no stones unturned and ensure that those responsible are made to pay for this calamitous incident. What has happened can be equated to a massacre. 

Mayor Xola Pakati said: “No parent sends their child to a tavern and if they happen to go, they don't deserve to die.”

The Royal House of Mandela has since called for the closure of community taverns, saying the cost of alcoholism in communities accounts for many tragedies, not just the deaths of young people. 

“It is a source of great concern for parents who are justifiably worried with the scourge of sexual offences against women including infants, toddlers, young girls and even abogogo [elders],” said Mandla Mandela in a statement. 

Mandela said community taverns harmed more than just minors and young people. He rubbished the justification of job creation and economic development.

We say that such justification is farcical in the light of the innocent lives lost in the Enyobeni tavern tragedy and other such incidents.

“We call on CBOs, NGOs, faith-based organisations and all organs of civil society to call for a ban on alcohol sales. It's time we put an end to those who kill our children and who profiteer from the lives of our innocent children.”  


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