HORROR TAVERN: My friends died in my arms


THE MORTUARY vans have come and gone. The young bodies found strewn throughout the pub have been removed.

All that remains is for the law to take its course.


The victims, mostly teenagers, died in the early hours of Sunday, 26 June, at Enyobeni Tavern in Scenery Park in East London.

Their bodies were found strewn across floors, chairs, and tables of the establishment with no visible injuries. It is alleged that a gas leak resulted in the mass deaths.

“I was woken up by my daughter’s friends and they told me that there was an accident at Enyobeni,” said Xolile Malangeni from Nompumelelo kasi, whose daughter Esinako (17) was one of the victims.

“Esinako was in Grade 12 and she sneaked out and joined her friends on Saturday night to be part of the pens down party.”

He said he didn’t have any words.

KUBUHLUNGU!: Xolile Malangeni is grieving the loss of his 17-year-old daughter Esinako (inset), who was among the young people who died at Enyobeni Tavern on Sunday. Photos by Siphokazi Totyi

“I’m asking questions, but my daughter isn’t here to provide answers.”

Like most other parents, they are appealing for the pub to close down.

“That will be the first step towards our healing,” he said.

Sivuyile Mpotho from Scenery Park, whose daughter was at the venue learning to DJ, said he was outside when the incident occurred and he fought to get inside.

“I saw there was chaos. My daughter was inside and I went inside to investigate,” said Mpotho.

“The door was slammed in my face but I managed to get in after I threatened a bouncer.”

Sivuyile said he couldn’t believe what he saw inside. “There were bodies all over the place. But fortunately, my daughter had managed to get out and she was safe.”

Police spokesman, Brigadier Thembinkosi Kinana would not speculate on the cause of the disaster but said police opened an inquest docket.

Police Minister Bheki Cele and the national commissioner, General Fannie Masemola, have brought in a high-level delegation of crime scene experts and bomb disposal technicians to probe the death of the nine female and 12 males.

Minister Cele ruled out the idea of a stampede after he was briefed by investigating officers and medical teams.

The Eastern Cape Liquor Board CEO, Nombuyiselo Makala, said: “Necessary steps are being taken to deal with this liquor outlet, including the immediate revocation of the liquor licence and laying criminal charges against the licence holder for the contravention of the Eastern Cape Liquor Act.”

The act says no alcohol shall be sold to persons under the age of 18.

“The Liquor Board has learned that some of the deceased are school-going and under the age of 18,” she said.

“The Board condemns this incident and conveys its condolences to families that have tragically lost their loved ones.”

Vuyokazi Ndevu, the wife of Enyobeni tavern owner Siyakhangela, said: “We always make sure there are no underage patrons but on Sunday this was beyond our control. We apologise to the families.” We are cooperating with the police as they investigate what happened.”

A 17-year-old survivor said: who saw a poster on social media about the event at Enyobeni said “I was drinking with my friends on the top floor of the tavern.

“When we wanted to go out, there was the smell of gas. Two of my friends died in my arms. I don’t know how I survived because I also collapsed.”

She said the venue was full to capacity.

“There was free booze and food. People were getting in while others were rushing for free booze,” she said.

“Most of the patrons were underage as the event was all over social media.”

Health spokeswoman Yonela Dekeda said: “The post-mortems have been completed. Samples have been submitted to the forensic lab for analysis. Once these results are received, the report will be finalised and handed to the police.”

She said of the 33 patients admitted to different health facilities, one died on arrival, while others were treated and discharged with backache, tight chests, vomiting and headaches. Two people are still in hospital.

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