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Experts called in to probe deaths of 21 teens killed in EC ‘pens down’ party

General Bheki Cele speaks to CSI experts at the scene following the deaths of at least 21 youngsters at a tavern in the EC. Picture: SAPS

General Bheki Cele speaks to CSI experts at the scene following the deaths of at least 21 youngsters at a tavern in the EC. Picture: SAPS

Published Jun 27, 2022

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Durban – A team of experts have been deployed to the Eastern Cape after at least 21 teens were killed in a ‘pens down’ party at a local tavern at the weekend.

Police Minister, General Bheki Cele, on Sunday visited Scenery Park following the tragedy.

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With the national commissioner of the SAPS, General Fannie Masemola, Cele led a high level delegation of crime scene experts and bomb disposal technicians from the national headquarters of the criminal record and crime scene management component to complement and support the Eastern Cape Crime Scene Investigations teams.

“We have an experienced team that is complementing the provincial team to ensure that we get to the bottom of what has led to the death of these young people. We are also engaging other stakeholders to investigate issues of compliance to liquor legislation,” he said.

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

A youngster at the venue claimed that they could not breathe and rushed to get outside.

“Because a lot of people died, people are expecting some major reason for the deaths whereas people died because they couldn't breathe. We were stuck at one place with no air coming just breathing in pepper spray, some even fell down and never got back up just got stepped on,” he said.

At this stage, police have confirmed that 17 bodies were found inside the tavern while two youngsters passed away at a local clinic, one died en route to hospital and one more died in hospital. Nine of the deceased are female while 12 of the deceased are male.

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Police have since registered an inquest into the death of the teenagers.

Anyone who may have information is urged to contact police and share information on the Crime Stop number on 08600 10111.

The Department of Basic Education has passed its condolences to the families of the deceased.

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