Maverick Citizen

ENYOBENI TRAGEDY

Police must hand over tavern disaster postmortem report to mourning parents, not us – EC Health MEC

Police spokesperson Brigadier Tembinkosi Kinana says they will not make the postmortem results available at this stage.

The MEC for Health in the Eastern Cape, Nomakhosazana Meth, has said that parents whose children died in the Enyobeni tragedy must collect the written postmortem results from the police, not the health department. 

But police spokesperson Brigadier Tembinkosi Kinana said they would not make the postmortem results available at this stage.  

“The postmortem results have been made available to the SAPS by forensic experts. According to the investigation procedures and guidelines, the investigators will have to consult with the National Prosecuting Authority for interpretation of the results and for a determination to be made on whether or not the case is ready for trial or inquest proceedings. Only then will the affected families be updated about the investigation process by the team,” Kinana added. 

Meth said: “The health department finalised the [postmortem] report and handed it to the police.” 

She said they had kept their promise to inform the parents of the cause of death, but did so verbally.

Tavern victims’ parents told children ‘crushed and suffocated’, but denied access to post-mortem results

On Thursday, parents and guardians of the 21 young people who died on 26 June at Enyobeni Tavern in Scenery Park, East London, were told in private meetings with officials that their children had died after being suffocated and “crushed” due to overcrowding.  

However, a number of parents and family members of those who died at the tavern told Daily Maverick that they rejected the idea that the children had suffocated. 

“When I saw [my son’s] body for the first time after the incident, there was foam around his mouth, something strange. His face looked like it had been stretched,” said one of the parents.  

Another victim’s family member said: “There were bruises on her face. We really don’t know what caused those bruises. She also had foam around her mouth.”   

And a father said his son’s corpse had “a bump on his forehead — it was something that confused us.”

Family members claimed that the government was misleading them with the postmortem report. 

“There are things we identified and saw on the bodies of our children which were not included in that report and that is why we are saying that report is not telling us the truth,” said one family member.  

Mourners at the mass symbolic funeral for teenagers who lost their lives at Enyobeni Tavern in Scenery Park, East London, on 6 July 2022. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)


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Stampede ruled out

On 27 June, a stampede was ruled out as a possible cause of death, as was carbon monoxide poisoning. During a press conference in July, the deputy director-general of clinical governance in the Eastern Cape Department of Health, Dr Litha Matiwane, said all of the deceased had methanol in their blood but further tests were being done to determine if these levels were fatal.  

Those who died at the tavern were: Esinako Sanarhana, Sikelela Tshemese, Sinothando Mgangala, Thembinkosi Silwane, Azizipho Zilindile, Bhongolethu Ncandana, Aluncedo Monelo, Mbulelo Rangile, Nathi Ngqoza, Inathi Nkani, Asamkele Thukuthe, Lithemba Velaphi, Sandanathi Mahlakahlaka, Simamkele Sobetwa, Kungentando Nzima, Lilitha Methuko, Lungile Bekiso, Ovayo Mateyise, Inamandla Wexu, Simele Bolsiki and Oyena Ngoloyi. 

Most of the victims were under 18 — the youngest was 13 years old. They were at the tavern to celebrate the end of the school term and the start of the winter holidays. 

Court appearance

Meanwhile, the manager of Enyobeni Tavern, Siyakhangela Ndevu, and his wife, Vuyokazi, appeared in the East London Magistrates’ Court on Friday, charged with selling or supplying intoxicating liquor to persons under the age of 18, and responsibility for conniving with and permitting employees and agents to sell or deliver intoxicating liquor to persons under the age of 18.   

They will appear in court again on 5 October.  

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Luxolo Tyali said the toxicology report was “still under investigation” and once a docket was received from the police, a decision would be taken on whether charges relating to the deaths of the children in the tavern would be added. 

“The NPA awaits a docket from the police, before deciding on possible further charges. The families of the young children, some underage, the affected community and South Africans at large are anxious to see justice served for their children who died in such tragic circumstances.” DM/MC

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