August 15, 2022

Brighton Journal

Complete News World

A massive funeral, horror stories and a growing mystery: Why did 21 young men die in a bar?

EAST LONDON, SOUTH AFRICA.- Before the bodies crumble and leave, Simbangil Mtsweni gasped for a breath of gas that felt as if fire had flowed through her nose and lungs..

“When I arrived, I was on the second floor and started throwing up I felt myself lying beside the dead”, he explained.

Emergency services at a restaurant in East London, South Africa, on June 26, 2022, found several young people dead. (AP Photo)

Hundreds of young peopleInspired by a Facebook ad promising an end-of-school party with alcohol and free Wi-Fi, Crowd in a small bar It was full of people East London is a city on the south coast of South Africa.

Twenty-one of them, all young men, would not survive the night. Witnesses, investigators — and the entire country — are struggling to understand how a dinner party ended. Young men who broke down and bled on the floor of the bar. It is called Ennopenny in the Scenery Park area of ​​East London.

“We went for the fun, not the dead bodies”Lubabalo Tongeni, an 18-year-old high school student, said he was still reeling five days after the incident.

On Wednesday A Mass funeralwhere is he President Cyril Ramaphosa It warned against underage drinking and recommended raising the legal drinking age from 18 to 21.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa at the funeral in East London.  (Photo by Bill Makako/AFP)
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa at the funeral in East London. (Photo by Bill Makako/AFP)Phil Makako – AFP

“We still don’t know what killed our children”Ramaphosa declared. “Families want answers, they want to know what happened to their children”he added.

The funeral was broadcast live on national television with the president and cabinet ministers sitting facing each other Rows of coffins. But for families waiting to learn why their children died, The mystery is even deeper.

An empty coffin to be used at a mass memorial service is seen inside a mortuary after 21 young people died at the Township pub in south east London on July 6, 2022.  (Photo by Bill Makako/AFP)
An empty coffin to be used at a mass memorial service is seen inside a mortuary after 21 young people died at the Township pub in south east London on July 6, 2022. (Photo by Bill Makako/AFP)Phil Makako – AFP

Provincial Health Department official Dr Litha Madiwane told the mourners These deaths cannot be attributed to overcrowdingWhile admitting evidence Panicked people tried to flee of the building. said The cause of death is still under investigation.

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Still lacking answers, people in society have found many targets to vent their anger and vent their anger.

Relatives of Thembingosi Silvane watch his burial at Heaven Hills Cemetery in East Londos on July 6, 2022, after 20 people, mostly teenagers, died in unclear circumstances at a township restaurant last month.  , an incident that shocked South Africa.  (Photo by Bill Makako/AFP)
Relatives of Thembingosi Silvane watch his burial at Heaven Hills Cemetery in East Londos on July 6, 2022, after 20 people, mostly teenagers, died in unclear circumstances at a township restaurant last month. , an incident that shocked South Africa. (Photo by Bill Makako/AFP)Phil Makako – AFP

A license issued to a bar with two floors and a single entrance is subject to scrutinyOwners are under Trial Offender and A The DJ who performed there says the community is crying out for his blood. There has been widespread speculation about The noxious gas that filled the air, who released it, and whether it contributed to death, death panic, or both.

Six people inside the bar and others outside said in interviews A combination of the mysterious gas, the crowd and the airless room may have caused the tragedy. Among the dead were youths under the age of 14 and most were under the age of 18.

City residents are furious with the local police for taking hours to respond Emergency calls. Beyond East London, the episode sparked A national debate on underage drinking and the place of wine in South Africa. Some point to others Formal failuresFrom the location and construction of the bar Liquor licensing laws should be relaxed in municipalities.

The teenagers who were there that night Visible trauma.

Members of the high school boys soccer team were in the bar, but a midfielder and a goalkeeper did not leave. The team’s forward said now Struggles with survivor’s guilt.

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A 19-year-old woman blamed herself for helping her 17-year-old friend to a party where she died. When a group of teenagers went to a bar recently to place plastic white roses at the door, everyone was overcome with emotion.

The entrance, a single metal door painted brown, was the center of chaos that night. The party was supposed to end at midnight on Saturday, June 25, but outside, dozens of people were still trying to get in, according to cell phone videos. After 0.30 (local time), the bar is dark, but no one stirs: Power outages are common in South Africa.

But When the disco’s flashing lights came back on after a few minutes, a gas floated on the ground floor, The survivors said. Some people said that It smelled like pepper spray, and others compared it to tear gas.

People leftr, those who were outside tried to get inside on a cold winter night. Just then the doormen closed the doorWitnesses said, Traps everyone inside.

On June 26, 2022, 21 people were found dead at a club in East London, South Africa.  (AP Photo)
On June 26, 2022, 21 people were found dead at a club in East London, South Africa. (AP Photo)

As dance music, a popular local style called amabiano played from the second floor. People on the ground floor were climbing over each other to get out, breaking only two windows In a room not exceeding 105 Sq.

Rapper Brian Mapasa said this after finishing his performance on the second floor He could hear gasps around him. He was walking down the stairs towards the exit when the door closed and began to crumble. Those trapped pressed him so tightly that his legs went numb.

He was bitten by 2 people who tried to walk on himHe recalled that six days later the semicircle of scabs on his forearms were still red. said Mapasa The gas touched his wounds. He fainted and felt his knees sink.

The music only stopped when screams pierced the chaos, the survivors recalled. Neon lights bounce off yellow walls with swirling brown murals, glowing bodies lie on the dance floor and friends are unable to revive them.

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Some jumped from the second floor. Only then did doormen open a separate door to remove some of the bodies, several survivors said.

Nolitha Qhekaza’s bedroom window is a few meters from the bar entrance. When people jumped from balconies, they landed on their roofs. Dead and injured youths were lying on the lawn in front of him, he said. A woman with a broken leg stayed in her dining room until 7 o’clock.

Early that Sunday morning, Qhekaza, 55, called police 10 times between 2:25 a.m. and 3:35 a.m., his call records show.

East London riots on day of pub tragedy
East London riots on day of pub tragedyhttps://twitter.com/BlessingsRamoba

Finally around 4 o’clock the police and ambulances started arrivingSaid the neighbors. As officers cordoned off the area, parents tried to play the tape. Some of the unconscious people were still inside the bar. Relaxing on faux fur couches or sprawled out on the dance floor: Dead and wounded side by side.

Pictures of the scene went viral on social media. That’s how some parents discovered that not only did their children go out that night, but they also died.

Siyangela and Vuokazi Nethevu, the owners of the bar, took over the majority Public condemnation.

The bar, which shares a wall with several private houses, It has long divided this community, residents used their savings to slowly build their houses. Neighbors complained of urine stains on the walls, empty bottles strewn outside, parties lasting until 8 and teenagers vomiting in their yards.

Ndevus declined to comment.

In the past week, The Liquor Board filed a criminal case against Vuokazi Nthe, in whose name the license was issued to sell liquor to minors. Police have not said whether they will file charges against him. At Wednesday’s funeral, officials announced the bar’s liquor license had been revoked.

Across the country, the conversation has focused on alcohol abuse and unregulated bars in South Africa.Especially in poorer municipalities, with mostly black populations. More than half of South Africans do not drink alcohol, but are heavy drinkersAccording to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Pallbearers prepare Thembingosi Silvan's coffin during his burial at Heaven Hills Cemetery in East London.  (Photo by Bill Makako/AFP)
Pallbearers prepare Thembingosi Silvan’s coffin during his burial at Heaven Hills Cemetery in East London. (Photo by Bill Makako/AFP)Phil Makako – AFP

In the park, where drug use is on the rise, going to bars to drink is popular among young people and considered less of a vice, said Ludumo Salman, a soccer coach who founded a soccer club for high school students.

Esethu Sotheni, who runs a not-for-profit organization for young people in the East London boroughs, said: “I believe this is a wake-up call because this is a reality across South Africa.”

Lynsey Sudel and Zibo-Jenkozi Nkokazi

The New York Times