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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

Enyobeni tragedy: Tavern owner to face criminal charges – ECLB

Hundred's of mostly underage school pupils flocked to the small tavern to celebrate the end of term. At least 21 are dead.

The Eastern Cape Liquor Board (ECLB) says it will lay criminal charges against the owner of the Enyobeni tavern at Scenery Park in the Eastern Cape after a group of teenagers were killed at the establishment.

“Necessary steps are being taken to deal with this liquor outlet, including the immediate revocation of the liquor license and laying criminal charges against the license holder for the blatant contravention of the Eastern Cape Liquor Act that clearly stipulates that no alcohol shall be sold to persons under the age of 18,” said ECLB Chief executive Officer Dr Nombuyiselo Makala.

At least 21 youngsters died under mysterious circumstances in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The exact cause of their deaths is unknown, and the police have called on the public not to speculate.

ALSO READ: Enyobeni Tavern: Saps investigating liquor legislation compliance

Concerns have been raised that underage drinking was rampant at the tavern, with reports emerging that the youngest person who died was just 13 years old.

In a statement, Makala says the board is ‘deeply pained’ by the death of the teenagers.

“ECLB has also learnt with shock that some of the deceased are school-going and under 18. The board condemns this repugnant incident with the strongest possible terms.

“As the Board, we have always been forthright in our condemnation and fight against the sale of alcohol to the underage. We have also consistently taken every necessary step against any liquor outlet that is found to have sold alcohol to the underage.”

But he said community members invariably had a significant role to play in monitoring and reporting liquor outlets that wittingly or unwittingly flout the trading conditions.

Meanwhile, the South African Police Service (Saps) has confirmed the deployment of maximum resources to investigate the deaths of the teenagers at the Enyobeni Tavern.

Minister of Police Bheki Cele and Saps National Commissioner Fannie Masemola led a high-level delegation of crime scene experts on Sunday.

“We have an experienced team that is complementing the provincial team to ensure that we get to the bottom of what has led to the death of these young people.

“We are also engaging other stakeholders to investigate issues of compliance to liquor legislation”, Cele said.

ALSO READ: ENYOBENI TAVERN LIVE UPDATES: Youngest victim only 13, Cele confirms

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Bheki Cele Eastern Cape Enyobeni Tavern Police

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