R5 000 fine for Enyobeni Tavern owners disappoints MEC

Enyobeni Tavern owners Siyakhangela and Vuyokazi Ndevu were each fined R5000. Picture: Bheki Radebe/Independent Newspapers

Enyobeni Tavern owners Siyakhangela and Vuyokazi Ndevu were each fined R5000. Picture: Bheki Radebe/Independent Newspapers

Published Feb 26, 2024


Eastern Cape Social Development MEC Bukiwe Fanta expressed her disappointment at the sentences handed down to Enyobeni Tavern owners Siyakhangela and Vuyokazi Ndevu last week.

The couple was fined R5 000 each or a 100-day prison term.

The East London Magistrate’s Court on Friday found that the State had proven its case beyond reasonable doubt that the couple were responsible for the sale of alcohol to minors.

The prosecution argued that Enyobeni Tavern had failed to enforce age restrictions, a violation of the Eastern Cape Liquor Act.

Additionally, testimony from neighbours and officials from the Eastern Cape Liquor Board corroborated the prosecution’s case.

During a June 2022 celebration known as a “pens down party,” 21 young people lost their lives. Nine girls and 12 boys, aged 13 to 17, died in the incident, and four individuals were hospitalised.

“I am disappointed at the sentence given as 21 children died after being sold alcohol illegally.

Their deaths were a painful and difficult ordeal. Parents and families place their hopes for the continuation and sustainability of their homes in the future on their children. Also, young children are the treasure and the future of communities and the nation,” said Fanta.

Fanta called on the owners of taverns and other places of entertainment, where the majority of customers are young people, to ensure that regulations, especially those relating to access and closing times, are strictly adhered to.

“Places of entertainment should not be death traps for young people,” said Fanta.

Approximately 49.6% of school age adolescents in South Africa have experienced consuming an alcoholic beverage at least once in their lifetime. The prevalence of alcohol use among school adolescents in the country varies, ranging from 22% to 53.8%.

“The high rate of substance abuse in the Eastern Cape manifests its negative effects on the youth (in and out of school), families, societies in general,” Fanta said.

She said her department has embarked on school-based campaigns to educate and raise awareness in schools among learners on the dangers of underage drinking and on drinking during pregnancy.

“The focus is on hot spot areas in the province. School-based campaigns are conducted in partnership with the Department of Education, which continues to intensify implementation of substance abuse programmes in institutions of higher learning.”

In collaboration with the Eastern Cape Liquor Board the department will implement tavern-based awareness campaigns. The focus of the campaigns will be to monitor compliance with liquor legislation.

A formal inquest into the deaths of the 21 young people is pending at the Mdantsane Regional Court.

This inquiry aims to identify any further criminal liability related to the incident.

Cape Times