South African authorities were still seeking an answer on Tuesday, two days after a 21-year-old teen had fun after school exams. died as a result of a mysterious incident in a nightclub. But as the survivors spoke of the strong, suffocating smell of the two-story building, which was full of traffic jams, new details emerged.
The bodies of most of the victims, the youngest, a 13-year-old girl, were found by police lying on tables, falling on chairs and sofas and scattered on the club’s dance floor early Sunday morning.
“They died while dancing,” said Police Minister Bheki Cele. “They dance, they fall and they die. In the true sense of the word.”
“Others will just feel dizzy, lie on the couch and (and) die. It tells you the story that they were all children because someone had to celebrate.”
Assumptions about the cause of the tragedy range from crowds to possible gas leaks. Police sent forensic samples from the victims to a toxicology laboratory to investigate whether the teenagers had received poison or toxins in the assembly.
Sinovuyo Monyane, 19, who was hired by the bar to promote the alcohol brand, said he was still “confused” but happy to be alive.
He said he was struggling to escape through a locked door with people.
“We tried to get through the crowd, shouting, ‘Please leave us,’ while others shouted ‘we’re dying, children,’ ‘suffocating,’ and ‘there are people who can’t breathe,'” he told AFP. .
“At that moment, I lost consciousness. I was out of breath and there was a strong smell of spray in the air. We thought it was pepper spray,” he said.
Then someone came to him after spraying water on him.
“I got up and realized that there were corpses around. I saw people pouring water, but those people didn’t even move,” he said in a telephone interview. “I could have died.”
Sifiso Promise Matinise, an employee of the bar, told AFP that he sprayed water on people who were unconscious, thinking they were drunk without realizing what was happening.
“I saw two people fall and they died.
Special investigators were sent to the scene from Pretoria, but no arrests have been made.
Regional investigator Thembinkosi Kinana said, “Investigators continue to look for possible clues and answers at Enyobeni Tavern.”
Police said they were called to the Enyobeni Tavern in East London, East Cape, at around 4am on Sunday morning after receiving information that there were “dead bodies” there. Officials who answered the call entered the sad scene: 17 teenagers were found dead in a nightclub. Two others died at a local clinic, one on the way to another hospital and another at the same hospital. Police said they were between 13 and 17 years old.
Police spokesman, Colonel. Athlenda Mathe said the investigation was ongoing and the cause of death had not yet been determined.
However, Cele said forensic samples were sent to an advanced toxicology laboratory in Cape Town, indicating that police were investigating the possibility of a poison or toxin. Cele said toxicology tests can take “too much time.”
Government security official Unathi Bingose told AFP: “Doubt is something that has been received either through drinks, food or something they breathe.”
State security official Unathi Bingose told the Daily Maverick that the victims had ingested the poison through alcohol or hookah pipes drawn at the party. According to preliminary reports, the victims – 12 boys and nine girls – were believed to have suffocated to death due to overcrowding at the party, but authorities found no signs of injuries on the bodies and police have now ruled it out.
The teens reportedly celebrated the end of mid-year exams, the birthday of a local DJ, and the relief of some of the latest COVID-19 restrictions in South Africa announced earlier this week.
Parents were asked to come to the morgue to get to know their children. The East Cape Health Department said there were survivors of back pain, chest tightness, vomiting and headaches at the hospital.
Police Minister Cele said the teenagers died between 2 and 4:30 a.m. Sunday. He also visited a nightclub and morgue on Sunday and burst into tears as he spoke to reporters outside the morgue.
“The look of the corpses lying there … when you look at their faces, you realize you’re dealing with kids, kids, kids,” Cele said. “You’ve heard the story that they were young, but when you see them, you realize it’s a disaster. Twenty-one of them. That’s a lot.”
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is in Germany for the G-7 summit, expressed his condolences to the families of the victims and expressed concern about “why such young people have come together.” Restrictions should be imposed on persons under the age of 18. ”
In South Africa, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to drink or consume alcohol, and the Eastern Cape Liquor Council has revoked the nightclub’s drinking license and a criminal case will be opened against the club’s licensee. The tragedy will re-focus on the many bars and nightclubs operating in the back streets of South Africa’s poor neighborhoods, which have often been criticized for not complying with drinking laws.
AFP contributed to this report.
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