South Africa holds funeral for 21 teens who died in tavern

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On Wednesday, July 6, 2022 South African will say their final farewell to 21 young people, who died in unclear circumstances at a township tavern last month, in an incident that shocked the world.

President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to address the nation in a memorial service for the mysterious tragedy death of 21 teenagers in a nightclub two weeks ago.

Hundreds of grieving family members and residents of East London’s Scenery Park township.

The deaths of underage teenagers in a nightclub is a crime and South African officials must increase steps to prevent alcohol from being illegally sold to youths, President Cyril Ramaphosa said Wednesday.

The neighbourhood surrounding the rundown tavern, where some residents have placed wreaths and flowers. Authorities have closed the bar, amid questions of how so many minors could have gathered in an establishment selling alcohol after midnight on June 26.

Community members say there is a well-known problem of underage drinking.

The stench of alcohol still lingers inside the club where the floor is littered with broken bottles of beer, cider and wine. Police have finished investigations at the bar so it is no longer cordoned off as a crime scene and security allowed journalists to briefly view the premises.

Handbags, sneakers, and hair weaves are also strewn across the floor, an indication of the chaos on the deadly night. President Cyril Ramaphosa said we do not know yet exactly what killed our children, but we do know that the law was broken that night and probably many nights before then. More than thousand mourners at the funeral in East London for the young people who died at a tavern nearly two weeks ago.

He went on to name each of the 21children with little tributes to them.

The South African President acknowledged that the families needed to know how their children had died and urged the police to conclude their investigation as soon as possible.

“It is sinful that there are people out there who are blaming the parents, who are blaming the young people for going there… The families do want closure, they want to know what happened to their children.”

Relatives have been taking turns to read obituaries, sharing nicknames and other endearing memories.

Private burials and the service organizers said the caskets on display were empty, in respect of the wishes of some families. The children are to be buried in various cemeteries later Wednesday and in the coming days.

The tent was filled to capacity so many mourners sat outside.

It’s still not known what caused the deaths of the children, one as young as 13, whose bodies were found in the Enyobeni tavern. They were under the legal drinking age of 18 in South Africa, said officials. Pathologists are studying the cause of death from blood samples. A stampede has been ruled out because the victims’ bodies did not show serious injuries, said police.

Ramaphosa will be attending the service amid several challenges including South Africa’s extended power cuts, wide-ranging allegations of corruption and questions about large amounts of cash reportedly found hidden in furniture in the president’s game farm.

In addition to a speech by Ramaphosa, the funeral service is to include hymns by local choirs and addresses by religious and community leaders.

Ramaphosa delivered the praise as he faces several challenges including South Africa’s extended power cuts, wide-ranging allegations of corruption and questions about large amounts of cash reportedly found hidden in furniture in his own game farm.

I have heard some say I have no business coming here to Scenery Park. Some have said I have bigger problems to fix,” Ramaphosa said to the gathering. “But I ask them, what is more important in this country, and on this earth, than the lives of our children?”

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