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‘I could have died’: Enyobeni tavern tragedy survivor speaks out

A forensics team outside Enyobeni tavern in Scenery Park township in East London, where 21 people died. Picture: BHEKI RADEBE

A forensics team outside Enyobeni tavern in Scenery Park township in East London, where 21 people died. Picture: BHEKI RADEBE

Published Jun 27, 2022


Durban – As investigators piece together the events that led to the deaths of 21 youngsters at an Eastern Cape pens-down party on Sunday, a survivor has shared the details.

On Sunday at about 4am police from the Scenery Park police station received a report about the deaths of teenagers at a local tavern.

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On arrival police found 17 bodies inside the building. It was later established that two more died at a local clinic, one died on the way to hospital and another died in hospital. Nine of the victims were girls, 12 were boys.

Nineteen-year-old Sinovuyo Monyane, who was hired by the bar to promote an alcohol brand, said she was still “confused” but felt lucky to be alive.

She said she struggled to escape through a door jammed with people.

“We tried moving through the crowd, shouting ‘please let us through’, and others were shouting ‘we are dying, guys’, and ‘we are suffocating’ and ‘there are people who can't breathe’,” she told AFP.

“I passed out at that moment. I was running out of breath and there was a strong smell of some type of spray on in the air. We thought it was pepper spray,” she said.

She later regained her consciousnesses after someone sprayed water on her.

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“I got up and realised that there were bodies lying around. I saw people being poured water, but those people did not even move. I could have died,” she said.

According to Police Minister Bheki Cele, a team of experts had been deployed to assist with investigations.

Post-mortems were conducted to see if the deaths could be linked to poisoning.

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“The bodies will be released to their families today,” said Yonela Dekeda, provincial spokeswoman for the Health Department.

Forensic analysis will be conducted this week.

“Samples were taken and were on first flight today to Cape Town, where the tests will be conducted,” said Eastern Cape Community Safety spokesperson Unathi Binqose.

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Events leading up to the deadly incident are speculative and remain part of a police investigation. However, it is alleged that pepper spray was sprayed into the crowd which led to a stampede.

The Eastern Cape Liquor Board has revoked the tavern owner's liquor licence and has vowed to open a criminal case.

The owner has expressed his sympathy to the families of the victims.