By: April Carson
South African authorities were still seeking answers on Tuesday, two days after 21 juvenile high school students died in a strange incident at a club. But new information emerged as survivors described a strong and suffocating odor in the jam-packed double-story structure.
Some said they had seen people dropping like flies, while others fainted or had seizures.
In the early hours of Sunday morning, police discovered the bodies of numerous teens, including a 13-year-old girl, on tables, slumped in chairs and sofas, and strewn across the dance floor of the club.
The exact cause of death has not been determined, but a police official said it appeared that they had been poisoned.
"We are investigating all possible angles, including mass food poisoning, bad drugs or a bad batch of alcohol," said Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi.
"They danced to their death," Police Minister Bheki Cele added. "They dance, fall, and perish. Deadlit."
"Others would just become dizzy, curl up on the sofa to sleep, and/or pass away. It implies that they were all youngsters since someone should have paid attention.
Several theories have circulated about the cause of the catastrophe, including a stampede that has been deemed out and a gas leak, with police having sent forensics samples from the victims to a lab for analysis.
Mulaudzi said that the death toll could rise as some of the injured are in "serious to critical" condition."
A young woman named Sunovuyo Monyane, 19, who was hired by the bar to market an alcohol brand, said she was still "confused" but felt fortunate to be alive.
She claimed she couldn't get out through a door gridlocked with people.
"I saw people crying and screaming for help."
"We tried pushing through the crowd, shouting 'please let us pass,' and others were shouting, 'we're dying, guys.' We're suffocating,' and 'there are people who can't breathe,' " she continued.
"At that moment, I passed out. I was running short on breath and there was a strong scent of some sort of spray in the air. We assumed it was pepper spray," she added.
She awoke after someone doused her with water.
I just woke up and found that people were dead. People were being drenched with water, but they didn't move. I could have died if I hadn't gotten out in time. "I rose and discovered there was blood all around me," she added in a phone interview.
According to reports, a bar employee named Sifiso Promise Matinise sprinkled water on the unconscious individuals in an attempt to revive them thinking they were drunk before realising what had occurred.
He said, "I saw two individuals collapse, and they perished."
The police have yet to make any arrests, despite the fact that several Pretoria-based experts have been sent to the area.
The police are still looking for possible clues and answers at Enyobeni Tavern, according to regional police spokesman Thembinkosi Kinana.
"We are investigating an inquest docket and we've sent a team of detectives to the scene," he said.
On the Day of the Incident...
At about 4 a.m. on Sunday, police in the Eastern Cape province were called to the Enyobeni Tavern in East London after receiving a report of "lifeless bodies." On arrival, officers discovered 17 teenagers dead inside the club. Two more died at a local clinic, one passed away en route to another hospital, and one died there. They ranged in age from 13 to 17, according to police.
Police Colonel Athlenda Mathe said another post-mortem examination was being conducted and that the cause of death had not been determined.
According to Cele, police were sending forensic samples to a top toxicology lab in Cape Town, suggesting that they were investigating the possibility of poisoning or some other toxin. The toxicological tests may take "a long time."
According to the South African government, "it is likely that it was something they ingested through beverages, food, or something they breathed." Unathi Binqose, a government official on safety, told AFP: "The suspicion is that it is due to this.
The deaths of the 12 boys and nine girls at a high school party were caused by a toxic substance that they ingested through alcohol or via hookah pipes, according to provincial safety official Unathi Binqose. Reports stated that the victims — 12 males and nine females — died in a crush as a result of overpopulation at the party, but authorities discovered no apparent injuries on their bodies and police have ruled this theory out.
The students were said to be partying in celebration of the end of mid-year exams, a local DJ's birthday, and the relaxation of some of the last COVID-19 limitations in South Africa, which were announced earlier this week.
An investigation is underway to identify the toxic substance and how it ended up in the club. Police are also looking into who supplied alcohol to the minors, as the legal drinking age in South Africa is 18.
The incident has caused widespread shock in the community, with parents of the deceased teens taking to social media to express their grief.
Parents were asked to go to a mortuary to identify their children. According to the Eastern Cape health department, survivors were being treated at the hospital for backache, tight chests, vomiting, and headache symptoms.
The teenagers died between 2 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. Sunday morning, said the Minister of State for Security, Lieutenant General Charles Tawana Cele. He had also gone to the club as well as the morgue on Sunday, where he was overcome with emotion while speaking to reporters outside the facility.
"I am here as a father. I am here as a South African. I am shaken by what I have seen," he said.
"When you look at their faces, you realize that you're dealing with kids. You've heard the tale that they are young, but when you see them, you become aware of it as a catastrophe. There were twenty-one of them."
The current president of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, offered his condolences to the relatives of the victims in a statement while also expressing his concerns over why "such young people were gathered at a location that should be off limits to persons under the age of 18."
The nightclub's license holder has been charged with various crimes, including selling and supplying alcohol to a minor. It is unlawful for anyone under the age of 18 to consume or purchase alcoholic beverages in South Africa, according to the Eastern Cape Liquor Board, which said it planned to shut down the club's liquor license as well as pursue criminal charges against its license owner. The accident will intensify scrutiny on many bars and clubs that operate in poor areas of South Africa and are routinely condemned for not following liquor regulations.
"It seems like these places are just popping up everywhere and they're not being monitored," said Lucky Twala, a member of parliament who represents the ZWide area where the club is located. "The people who frequent these clubs are mostly young people who are not of drinking age."
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About the Blogger:
April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
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