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Enyobeni Tavern: Community lights candles in memory of victims

The candle lighting ceremony in memory of the #EnyobeniTavern tragedy where 21 pupils from local schools perished almost two weeks ago is in motion outside the establishment at Scenery Park, East London. Photo: Henk Kruger/African News Agency

The candle lighting ceremony in memory of the #EnyobeniTavern tragedy where 21 pupils from local schools perished almost two weeks ago is in motion outside the establishment at Scenery Park, East London. Photo: Henk Kruger/African News Agency

Published Jul 4, 2022

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East London - Two days before the mass funeral of the 21 local learners who perished inside the infamous Enyobeni tavern in East London, community members on Monday came together to light candles in their memory.

The sombre gathering was also used by the angry community to vent at the government and the Eastern Cape Liquor Board for allegedly failing to do their work.

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The candle lighting ceremony was held in front of the now-closed and deserted tavern and it was attended by about 200 community members - young and old.

The community members sang sorrowful songs like “Senzeni Na - What have we done” and “Nithi asithule kanjani - How can we be quiet?”

Some of the community members were in ANC regalia while others were not, yet they showed solidarity while holding burning candles while singing. Others came carrying bibles and were in religious regalia.

A local community activist, Andile Magqabi, was vocal and told IOL that the liquor board had lied when it claimed they had consented to the tavern’s licence being extended.

Flowers have been placed at the entrance of the Enyobeni Tavern in East London where 21 young people lost their lives. Investigations into the cause of the death are ongoing. Picture: Henk Kruger African News Agency (ANA)

The issue of the extension of the licence for the tavern which gained momentum around 2012 came to head after it was alleged that the owner of the tavern, who has now been criminally charged, refused to deal with noise emanating from his establishment which is located inside a residential area.

“What happened was that the liquor board gave the forms to the owner to allow people to consent by signing them. The owner instead took the forms and gave them to her patrons who consented and they were sent back. That is what happened, we would have never consented to that,” Magqabi said.

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The liquor board flatly denied the allegations, saying it did all it was required to do to ensure that there is compliance with the law governing the issuing of licences.

Another resident said they wanted Police Minister Bheki Cele and President Cyril Ramaphosa to take action.

“Heads must roll, that is what we want now, no empty promises. We hope that when President Ramaphosa comes to the funeral on Wednesday, he will tell us people have been arrested and those who did not do their job fired,” said the resident who did not give his name.

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The candle lighting ceremony came after a four hour long compliance blitz which found that most of the eight taverns inspected were not in compliance with some of the municipal by-laws.

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