South African police investigating at least 22 deaths at nightclub
More than 20 young people were found dead at a nightclub in South Africa early Sunday morning, authorities said.
Police were investigating after at least 22 bodies were discovered inside a popular township tavern close to East London city, area health officials said. No cause of death was immediately known.
Unathi Binqose, the spokesman for the Department of Community Safety in Eastern Cape Province, said initial findings suggested that there was a stampede at the overcrowded club, according to the New York Times.
“What has happened can be equated to a massacre,” East London mayor, Xola Pakati said in a statement.
South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa reportedly expressed his condolences.
“While the President awaits more information on the incident, his thoughts are with the families who have lost children as well as families who are awaiting confirmation of how their children may have been affected,” he said in a statement, according to CNN.
Brig. Tembinkosi Kinana, a police spokesman, said the police had received a call about 4 a.m. local time reporting deaths at the tavern, the newspaper reported. He said the tavern held a large party on Saturday night that served as a celebration of South Africa recently lifting its mask requirement for public places, according to the Times.
Other reports suggested the young people had been attending a party to mark the end of winter school exams.
“It attracted huge numbers — more than the tavern can accommodate,” Kinana said.
The bodies will be taken to local mortuaries, where relatives are expected to help identify both male and female victims, said Siyanda Manana, a spokesperson for the Eastern Cape provincial health department.
“We are going to immediately be embarking on autopsies so we can know the probable cause of death,” he said, as forensic personnel performed their work at the cordoned-off crime scene at Enyobeni Tavern. “At this point, we cannot confirm the cause of death.”
“We are talking [about] 22 bodies right now,” Manana added. The owner of the club told a local broadcaster that he didn’t know exactly what transpired overnight beyond the overcrowding. “I am still uncertain about what really happened, but when I was called in the morning I was told the place was too full and that some people were trying to force their way into the tavern,” said Siyakhangela Ndevu.
“However, we will hear what the police say about the cause of death.”
Earlier, Brigadier Tembinkosi Kinana said police were alerted about an unspecified incident at Scenery Park, about two miles from the city center. The dead men and women were between 18 and 20 years old, Kinan said.
“The circumstances under which they died are under investigation,” Kinana said, adding it was too early to come to a conclusion on their cause of death.
Premier Oscar Mabuyane did not provide possible reasons for the deaths, but condemned the “unlimited consumption of liquor,” the BBC reported.
“You can’t just trade in the middle of society like this and think that young people are not going to experiment,” he said.https://nypost.com/2022/06/26/south-africa-police-investigating-at-least-17-deaths-at-east-london-tavern/