Enyobeni tavern: Scenery Park community commemorate victims a year later
Some families are still seeking justice for the deaths of their children.
Civilians protest outside East London High Court during the appearance of the owners of Enyobeni tavern on 25 April 2023. Picture: Gallo Images/Die Burger/Lulama Zenzile
It’s been a year since the death of 21 young people at the Enyobeni tavern in East London, Eastern Cape, with families still reeling from the deaths of their children.
On 26 June 2022, the deaths of teenagers at the establishment in Scenery Park made headlines after they died under mysterious circumstances during a “pens down” celebration following mid-year exams.
Nine girls and 12 boys, aged between 13 and 17, died in the disaster.
A commemorative event is currently being held at the Scenery Park community hall on Monday.
According to a final toxicology report by the Eastern Cape Department of Health, the victims suffocated to death due to overcrowding inside the tavern.
Some of the families of the deceased, however, are still seeking justice after they have rejected the findings of the report.
They previously threatened legal action against authorities in order to get answers.
“We are not sure if there is another report, because when the department first gave us the preliminary results a week after the incident, the report was ruled out.
“That was before we buried the children and after the burials, we met them again at the Cambridge Police Station where they said a stampede was ruled out,” one of the victims’ parents, Khululekile Ncandana, told City Press recently.
According to Ncandana, the families were subsequently told by the Health Department, during a meeting last September, that each parent would be called in individually “to be given the results according to their own child”.
“We were putting pressure on the department for them to give us the results [of the investigation] because they had said they had brought in more specialists to work on the report.
“We were then told that we won’t be getting anything because the report was confidential. How can it be confidential when it is our own children? To this day, it remains confidential,” he added.
It was revealed during the trial of tavern owners Siyakhangela and Vuyokazi Ndevu in the East London Magistrate’s Court last month, that a bouncer had discharged pepper spray-like substance inside the overcrowded establishment at time of their deaths.
One state witness told the court the bouncer then locked the door and fled.
The trial is set to resume on 19 July. The matter had been postponed due to load shedding.
The Enyobeni tavern owners are facing charges of contravening the Liquor Act for allegedly selling alcohol to underage children or coercing employees to sell it to minors.
The accused, whose tavern’s liquor licence has been revoked, have maintained their innocence.