EIGHT young women were killed and six others injured after a stampede at a tavern in Makhaza, Khayelitsha, yesterday morning.
Witness reports said a group of people tried to get out of Osi’s Place while a second group tried to get in at around 3am, causing a steel step railing to collapse and sending patrons plummeting about 5m to the ground.
Two of the women died on their way to hospital when the vehicle transporting them was involved in an accident.
Police spokesperson André Traut said they were gathering more information about the incident.
“Harare police have opened an inquest docket following the death of eight young women at a tavern in Makhaza to determine if any person can be held responsible for their death,” said Traut.
He said the victims were all females between 15 and 23 years old.
The six injured were between 17 and 24.
Ongeziwe Xeketwana, 22, from Makhaza was one of the victims who died during the incident.
Her mother, Nomvuyo Xeketwana, 50, said the family was finding it difficult to deal with the tragedy.
Nomvuyo received a call from an unknown number at about 3am, telling her that her daughter had been taken to hospital.
“I think he ran out of airtime as he was about to tell me more details. He said his name was Lwando and he had taken Ongeziwe to hospital.
“Moments later, I received another call from a person who described herself as a nurse at Khayelitsha Hospital.
“She asked me if I was Ongeziwe’s mother and told me I needed to come to hospital,” said Nomvuyo.
By the time Nomvuyo arrived at the hospital, the doctor on duty told her that her daughter was dead.
“I am not sure whether she died there or on her way to the hospital. The last time I spoke with her was at around 7pm on Saturday and she said she was going down the road and would be back,” Nomvuyo said.
The unemployed mother said the family were trying to make funeral arrangements but had not decided when to hold the burial.
“What I heard had happened was that there were people drinking at the tavern from the top floor and it was full.
“When they were closing, the people who were outside wanted to get inside and the railing fell; people started falling over,” she said.
The tavern remained closed yesterday, with the owner, who refused to be named, also trying to gather information about what had happened.
He said he had been advised by the police not to give comment until a statement was released.
A witness at the scene of the incident, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “This happened when the tavern was closing.
“There were just too many people and there was chaos. The people who were outside tried to force their way in.”
A Cape Times photographer was warned by the owner not to take photographs of the tavern. The owner said he was still trying to make contact with the families of the deceased.
Ward councillor Mpucuko Nguzo sent his condolences to the families.