South Africa: 22 young people die in an East London nightclub

Police in South Africa are investigating the death of at least 22 people with no visible injuries at a nightclub in a coastal town

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Emergency vehicles in East London, South Africa

At least 22 young people died in a nightclub in South Africa on June 26 under unknown circumstances.

Police were called to the scene at Enyobeni Tavern in Scenery Park Township where they found 22 bodies and several others who were reportedly injured.

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On the morning of June 26, several ambulances and hearses were seen parked near the Enyobeni Tavern.

The tragedy happened during South Africa’s Youth Month, a month commemorating the massacre of school children during the 1976 Soweto uprising and focusing on ways to help young people in the country prosper.

Emergency vehicles in East London, South Africa

How did the tragedy come about?

It is unclear what led to the deaths of the youngsters who were reportedly attending a party in the South African coastal city of East London to celebrate the end of winter school exams.

Local newspaper Daily Dispatch reported bodies were strewn across tables and chairs with no visible sign of injury.

Initial reports suggested the nightclub was overcrowded and there had been a rush which may have caused the deaths.

Other reports suggest the deaths may have been caused by a poison gas leak. There is no official cause of death known at this time.

Health Ministry spokesman Siyanda Manana said: “At this time, we cannot confirm the cause of death.

“We will perform autopsies as soon as possible to determine the probable cause of death. The deceased were taken to state morgues.”

Members of the East London community are awaiting news after the tragic event

The club’s owner, Siyakhangela Ndevu, told local broadcaster eNCA he was called to the scene around 1am on Sunday.

He said: “The place was very chaotic, it was full of children and boys. It was packed to the gate and some children crowded in while security forces struggled to control the situation.”

He added: “I’m still not sure what really happened but when I was called in the morning I was told the place was too busy and that some people were trying to break into the tavern.

“But we will hear what the police say about the cause of death.”

Who are the victims?

It has not yet been named who died in the tragedy. There were mixed reports on the ages of those who died, with some media outlets reporting the victims were between 13 and 20 years old.

Local reports have also said that relatives were not allowed to see the bodies and they could be heard calling out the names of their dead loved ones at the scene.

What was the reaction to the tragedy?

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa shared his sadness at the tragedy via Twitter.

He wrote: “My deepest condolences to the families of the 22 teenagers who lost their lives in a tavern in Scenery Park, east London, in the early hours of this morning.

“This tragedy is made even more serious by its occurrence during Youth Month – a time when we celebrate young people, advocate for, and promote opportunities for, better socio-economic conditions for our nation’s youth.” South Africa: 22 young people die in an East London nightclub


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