The owner of the Enyobeni Tavern – where 22 teenagers were found dead on Sunday – said he was informed of “chaos at the tavern” while away from the venue.
Speaking to eNCA, the owner, Siyakhangela Ngevu, said he was “in the bush to look for his son” who is currently attending initiation school.
Ngevu received a call around 1am and headed back to the tavern, where he saw underage persons celebrating and forcing themselves into the venue.
It’s believed the teenagers were celebrating the recent closure of schools and to mark the end of this quarter’s exams.
Ngevu said he was devasted by the events and has since been advised to close his business while investigations are conducted.
He has welcomed the advice and will be cooperating with authorities.
Meanwhile, Eastern Cape police spokesperson Brigadier Tembinkosi Kinana said detectives are trying to make sense of the bizarre incident.
“The bodies are still on the scene, investigators are being very thorough because we don’t want people to say things have been bungled up,” said Kinana.
Concern about venue safety
Meanwhile, Police Minister Bheki Cele and Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu are en route to East London.
Sisulu said, “As a mother, my heart breaks as I imagine the anguish visited upon parents of these young people”.
“As a leader, my immediate concern must be to provide a proper understanding of this moment, and how we can support those affected”.
In a statement issued by the Tourism department, Sisulu said it is too early to draw conclusions, but one thing remains clear:
“We must be concerned about the safety of our venues, and especially our young people”.
Enyobeni Tavern incident ‘a massacre’
Buffalo City Executive Mayor Xola Pakati also issued a statement, urging the police to “leave no stones unturned and ensure those responsible are made to pay for this calamitous incident”.
Pakati added: “What has happened [in East London] can be equated to a massacre”.
“No parent sends their child to a tavern, but even if they happen to go, they do not deserve to die”.