At least 17 people have tragically been found dead, including underage children, at a night club after a potential ‘poison’ exposure. Police and paramedics were called to the scene at the Enyobeni Tavern in the South African city of East London in the early hours of June 26.
However, more than a dozen people were discovered dead, including children under the age of 18, who had allegedly gone out to celebrate the end of exams, local officials confirmed.
Devastated parents discovered that their children were among the dead after images of their bodies circulated on social media, with sobbing families stood outside the tavern trying to get in. Investigations have suggested that a stampede took place when one or two DJs attracted “unanticipated numbers” of young people to the small venue.
However, one official claimed that first photos from the scene seem to suggest that the cause of death is unlikely to have been a stampede as the bodies are described as laying on chairs with no obvious sign of injury.
The cause of death is unknown but early speculation suggested that the punters could have been exposed to a kind of poisonous substance. Eastern Cape Community Safety spokesperson, Unathi Binqose, told Newzroom Afrika that they would take a “closer look” at what was being sold at the pub.
He said: “What is clear is that there was a stampede that took place but whether it is the cause of the fatalities that will be subject to the forensic investigation.
“Some of the bodies were found on top of the tables, there were no open wounds, there were no bruises that may point to stampede. We are talking about a small tavern. “There were bodies found on both floors so that may put into doubt the issue of stampede.
“We are told that some are underage, meaning they are under the age of 18. That is not a legal age to be in a tavern or alcohol outlet in SA. “Just by looking at the bodies there are some that are under the age of 18. “We are told that it’s pens down…We are also told that it has been ‘masks down’ as not so long ago it was announced the wearing of masks in SA is no longer necessary.
“Those with serious concerns for their children have now started to make their way to the mortuary as they have been advised to do so. They will get a chance to identify their loved ones. “Like we have said on the issue of a stampede, it doesn’t look like it’s the only cause so we will have to dig deeper, take a closer look at what is being sold at the tavern.
“Of course the bodies will have a lot of details as well during the post mortems, of what may have been a contributing factor to the fatalities.” Outside the tavern panic spread that several children could be among the dead as ‘lots of distraught parents’ returned home to find their kids were not there and gathered outside the tavern looking for answers.
Mr Binqose said “There are a lot of distraught parents waiting, some were coming in from night-shift and when they got home they were told their children were not there. “Some were crying and some of the pictures have circulated on social media, pictures that are supposed to be part of the forensic investigation.”
He added: “The tavern owner will certainly have a lot to answer to. The issue of licensing will have to be looked at. “We will probe and investigate everything to get to the bottom of this because we have got to ensure sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Police and forensic officers remain at the scene where the bodies of the deceased are being removed and a full investigation is underway. The South African Police Service SAPS claimed they did not wish to speculate on the cause of deaths until their investigation was complete.
Brigadier Tembinkosi Kinana told Newzroom Afrika, “The SAPS confirms an incident where people were found dead in a tavern in Scenery Park in the area of East London. “We received this report in the early hours of Sunday. The circumstances surrounding the incident are under investigation as we speak.
“We do not want to make any speculation at this stage, our investigation is continuing.”
The popular Enyobeni Tavern is a club in Scenery Park, South Africa, in the British namesake city which sits on the south-eastern coast. The port city which is build around the Buffalo River was originally known as Port Rex but was renamed to honour the UK capital city in the mid-19th century.