South Africa: 21 teenagers die after night out at Tavern; There is no visible wound on the body, the reason is not clear

At least 21 teenagers, possibly only 13 of the youngest, died in a tragedy after a night out at a township inn in South Africa over the weekend, the cause of which is unclear.

Provincial officials said several students were believed to be celebrating the end of their high-school exams on Saturday night. No injury marks were visible on the bodies. Officials have ruled out the stampede as a possible cause and said an autopsy will determine whether the deaths could be linked to poisoning.

Crowds of people, including parents whose children were missing, gathered on Sunday outside the tavern where the tragedy struck in the city of east London, while morgue vehicles collected bodies. AFP saw the reporter.

Senior government officials left for the southern city. Among them was National Police Minister Bhiki Sele, who burst into tears after walking out of a morgue where bodies were being kept.

“It’s a terrible sight,” he told reporters. “They are quite young. When you are told they are 13, 14 and you go out there and you see them. It (you) breaks.”

The Eastern Cape’s provincial government said eight girls and 13 boys had died. Seventeen dead were found inside the inn. The rest died in the hospital.

Drinking is permitted for anyone over the age of 18 at township inns, commonly known as shebeans, which are often located cheek by cheek alongside family homes or, in some cases, inside homes. But safety rules and drinking-age laws don’t always apply.

“We had a child who died on the spot,” said the parents of a 17-year-old boy. “This kid, we didn’t think was going to die like this. It was a humble child, dear,” said the grieving mother Nombizonke Magangala, standing next to her husband outside the morgue.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, attending the G7 summit in Germany, sent his condolences. He expressed concern “about the circumstances under which such young people were assembled in a place which, on the face of it, should be off-limits to persons under the age of 18”.

The authorities are now considering whether to amend the liquor licensing rules or not. South Africa is one of the countries in Africa where most alcohol is consumed.

Provincial Prime Minister Oscar Mabuyane said, “It is absolutely unbelievable; … 20 young people lost their lives.” He was talking to reporters before the toll was updated to at least 21. He condemned the “unlimited consumption of alcohol”.

“You can’t do business like this in the middle of society and think the youth aren’t going to experiment,” he said in a residential area called Scenery Park, outside the inn.

Empty wine bottles, wigs and even a pastel purple “Happy Birthday” sash were found strewn on a dusty road outside the two-story Enyobeni Tavern, according to Unathi Binkos, a security government official who arrived at the scene at dawn.

‘No obvious signs of injury’

Denying the stampede as the cause of death, Binkos said AFP: “Open wounds are not visible.” “Forensics (investigators) will take samples and check if there is any kind of poison,” he said.

local newspaper dispatchlive Its website reported: “The bodies lie scattered on tables, chairs and the floor, with no obvious signs of injury.”

Parents and officials said they understand that many of those who died were students celebrating “pen down” parties held after high school exams were over. Local television showed police officers trying to pacify a crowd of parents and spectators gathered outside the club in the city, which is located on the Indian Ocean coast some 1,000 km south of Johannesburg.

(Written by Vandiswa Natanzento)

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