EAST LONDON. – South African mourners expressed anger and despair yesterday at the death of 21 teenagers in a tavern over the weekend, as investigating authorities said the youths were probably accidentally poisoned by something they ate, drank or smoked.
The still unexplained deaths of the teens, some of whom were celebrating the end of school exams and others a birthday party, have brought an outpouring of grief and shocked a nation accustomed to injuries linked to a binge drinking culture. Authorities ruled out an earlier-touted notion of a stampede.
Residents of Scenery Park, on the edge of East London, said they had asked authorities to close Enyobeni Tavern down weeks ago because it was serving under-aged kids.
The tavern’s licence was revoked yesterday.
At a prayer meeting at a local church, mourners and priests sang, prayed, drummed on hymn books and cried over the loss of the youngsters.
“I’m so devastated. We are so angry,” Maxhabiso Sibotoboto, 50, whose 17-year-old granddaughter, Monelo, was among the dead, said by phone from a church memorial service for them.
Police Minister Bheki Cele said the teenagers died as they danced. He said they began dying from about 2.13am until 4:30am.– Reuters