Mystery over deaths of 21 teenagers at South African nightclub

CAPE TOWN: South African authorities were searching for answers on Monday after 21 teenagers believed to be celebrating the end of school exams died in a mysterious incident at a nightclub.
The bodies of many of the victims, the youngest as young as 13, were discovered by police lying on tables, collapsed on chairs and sprawled on the floor of the club in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Police spokesman Colonel Athlenda Mathe said the investigation into the deaths at the Enyobeni Pub in East London in Eastern Cape province is still ongoing and the cause of death has not been determined.
But Police Minister Bheki Cele said forensic samples taken from the victims were being sent to a toxicology lab in Cape Town, indicating police were investigating whether the victims had ingested poison or poison. Cele said toxicology tests can take “a lot of time.”
Provincial safety official Unathi Binqose told the Daily Maverick that the victims may have ingested a toxic substance through the alcohol they were drinking or through the hookah being smoked at the party. Initial reports speculated that the teenagers may have died in an overcrowded stampede at the party, but authorities found no signs of injury on the bodies.
Police said they were called to the nightclub around 4 a.m. Sunday after receiving reports that there were “lifeless bodies” there. The officers who answered the call entered a grim scene: 17 teenagers were found dead on the spot. Two others died at a local health station, one died on the way to the hospital and one at the hospital. According to police, their ages ranged from 13 to 17.
The teenagers are said to have celebrated the end of year-end exams, a local DJ’s birthday and the easing of COVID-19 restrictions during South Africawas announced at the beginning of the week.
Parents are asked to go to a morgue to identify their children.
Police Minister Cele visited the nightclub and morgue on Sunday and choked back tears as he spoke to reporters outside the morgue.
“The scene that I saw inside here, it doesn’t matter what kind of heart you have,” said Cele. “First, the sight of those bodies sleeping there. But when you look at their faces, you realize that you are dealing with children, children, children. ”
“You’ve heard the story that they were young, but when you see them, you realize it’s a disaster. 21 of them. Too many.”
The president of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosawho is in Germany for the G7 summit, offered condolences to the families of the victims in a statement but also said he was concerned why “such young people have gathered in one place”. the point that in terms of should not be limited to people under the age of 18”
It is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to drink alcohol in South Africa and residents and community leaders have called for the nightclub to be closed. The tragedy will cause many bars and nightclubs to operate in poor neighborhoods in South Africa and often criticized for not complying with alcohol laws.

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