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loveLife challenges SAPS to charge Enyobeni tavern owners with culpable homicide

Minister of Police Bheki Cele outside Woodbrook State Mortuary during a short prayer after families of 20 people died in Enyobeni Tavern in Scenery Park in East London . The cause of the the death is unclear :Picture by BHEKI RADEBE

Minister of Police Bheki Cele outside Woodbrook State Mortuary during a short prayer after families of 20 people died in Enyobeni Tavern in Scenery Park in East London . The cause of the the death is unclear :Picture by BHEKI RADEBE

Published Jun 28, 2022

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Johannesburg - Non-profit organisation loveLife have called on law enforcement to prioritise the investigation into the death of more than 20 teenagers who tragically died at a local tavern in East London, Eastern Cape.

In the early morning of Sunday, parents and residents at Scenery Park woke up to the devastating news and a gruesome scene with reported deaths of more than 21 children aged between 13 and 17.

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loveLife chief executive Dr Linda Ncube-Nkomo said the loss of young lives, as seen in the Enyobeni tavern incident, is a tragedy of mammoth proportions and the worst nightmare of any parent.

“I wish to send our condolences to the parents and families who lost their loved ones. Losing a child has to be the hardest experience that any parent can go through and we, at loveLife, hope that they will have access to the necessary counselling and support to help them get through this loss,” Ncube-Nkomo said.

The organisation called on all the law enforcement agencies to prioritise the investigation into the deaths of these children.

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“loveLife challenges SAPS to see to it that if the owner of Enyobeni tavern is found to have allowed underage drinking in their tavern – they be charged with culpable homicide. This will send a strong message to those that similarly breach the conditions of their operating licences that are clear about not selling alcohol to children under the age of 18,” loveLife said.

The non-profit further urged that liquor regulatory bodies reflect on the deaths of these young people and recognise that they have a bigger responsibility to be proactive in curbing underage drinking.

loveLife added that the lawmakers’ call for additional police to be deployed to taverns and shebeens to ensure owners are not selling alcohol to underage customers should be the most urgent interventions required to prevent another Enyobeni incident from happening.

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“Enyobeni tavern is in a residential area. Therefore, it is reasonable to believe that residents would have been aware of the underage drinking taking place at their doorstep. For incidents like these to stop occurring, we need to actively call and involve law enforcement agencies when the law is being broken right under our noses. We call on South Africans to blow the whistle on crime affecting our youth. An incident like this one is one too many and should never be allowed to happen again,” said Dr Ncube-Nkomo.

The NGO urged parents and guardians to actively see to the safety of their children and do more to educate them on the dangers of alcohol abuse.

“Underage drinking is a looming crisis that requires everyone in society to play their part, and those charged with the responsibility to protect the children must be held accountable when in breach of their duties,” loveLife said.

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