The youngest, perhaps 13-year-old, at least 21 teenagers died after a night in a town tavern this weekend. South Africa in a tragedy for unknown reasons. State officials say many are believed to be students celebrating the end of high school exams on Saturday night.
There were no visible wounds on the bodies. Authorities ruled out a possible cause of the crowd and said autopsies would determine whether the deaths were related to poisoning.
According to the AFP correspondent, a crowd gathered in front of the tavern where the tragedy took place in East London on Sunday, including parents whose children were missing, as the morgue trucks were collecting the bodies.
Senior government officials struck the southern city. Among them is National Police Minister Bheki Cele, who burst into tears after leaving the morgue where the bodies were kept.
“It’s a horrible sight,” he told reporters. “They are very young. When I tell you that they are 13 or 14 years old, you go there and see. You are broken (you).”
The Eastern Cape government said eight girls and 13 boys had been killed. He was found dead in seventeen taverns. The rest died at the hospital.
People over the age of 18 are usually allowed to drink in pubs, known as shabina, next to family homes, or in some cases indoors.
However, safety rules and drunken age laws do not always apply.
The parents of the 17-year-old said, “We have a child there who died at the scene.”
Ntombizonke Mgangala, a sad mother standing next to her husband outside the morgue, said, “We didn’t think this child would die that way. It was a humble, respectful child.”
A 17-year-old girl who introduced herself as Lolly told Reuters that the tavern was popular among teenagers.
President Cyril Ramaphosa is also present G-7 Summit Gives condolences in Germany.
He expressed concern about “the reported conditions in which such young people under the age of 18 gather in a restricted area.”
Authorities are now considering whether to reconsider the rules for licensing alcohol.
Provincial Prime Minister Oscar Mabuyane said, “It’s absolutely incredible; even the loss of 20 young lives.”
He spoke to reporters before the death toll rose to at least 21.
He condemned “unlimited alcohol consumption.”
“You can’t imagine young people not experimenting in this way in the middle of society,” he said in a residential area called Scenery Park on the edge of the tavern.
A security official, Unathi Bingose, who arrived at the scene in the morning, said empty bottles of alcohol, wigs and even pastel purple “Happy Birthday” pants were found scattered on a dusty street near the two-story Enyobeni tavern.
“There are no visible open wounds,” Bingose told AFP, excluding the crowd as the cause of death.
“The forensic expert (investigators) will take samples and check to see if there is any poisoning,” he said, adding that the bar was overcrowded.
local newspaper DispatchLive “The bodies are scattered on tables, chairs and floors without obvious signs of injury,” he said on his website.
Parents and officials said they understood that most of the dead were students celebrating their “pencil” celebrations after high school exams.
Local television showed police officers trying to calm parents and a packed crowd gathered in front of a club in a city on the Indian Ocean coast, about 620 miles south of Johannesburg.
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