President Ramaphosa leads condolences for 22 victims of Eastern Cape tavern tragedy

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President Cyril Ramaphosa has sent his condolences to the families of the 22 “teenagers” who died in a tavern in the Eastern Cape in the early hours of Sunday morning.

In a tweet on Sunday afternoon, Ramaphosa said: ”My deepest condolences go to the families of the 22 teenagers who lost their lives at a tavern in Scenery Park, East London, in the early hours of this morning.”

It comes as police forensics and other crime scene investigators were still at the Enyobeni Tavern in East London piecing together the circumstances that led to the tragedy.

Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane told reporters at the scene that 17 people died at the scene and the others in hospital.

According to police, the victims are believed to between the ages of 18 and 20.

Scores of community members gathered at the grisly scene from early on Sunday as news spread of the tragedy.

While many were curious onlookers, some had come in search of their loved ones who had not returned home.

Police were advising community members, many of whom were agitated, to check the mortuary and hospital for missing family members.

Police Minister Bheki Cele was expected to arrive in the Eastern Cape on Sunday, adding further weight to the probe into the deaths.

Earlier, Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mbuyane has visited the Enyobeni Tavern in Scenery Park in East London.

Mbuyane described the incident as “shocking” and said it cast a spotlight on liquor licences and how they were enforced. “You can’t just have a tavern in the middle of a residential area,” he said.

According to media reports, the owner of the tavern was said to be distraught over the incident and had decided to close the business while police investigate.

The circumstances of the deaths were not yet established, but initial reports suggested that poor ventilation and the possibility of a poisonous substance in the air led to a stampedem which resulted in the deaths.

-IOL

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