South Africa: mystery as 20 dead found in nightclub

Police are investigating the gruesome discovery of the bodies of a group of youths who were found “lying across tables, chairs and the floor with no apparent signs of injury”.

At least 20 young people have died in a makeshift nightclub in a township in South Africa’s southern city of East London, but the cause of death is still unclear.

Senior provincial government officials rushed to the crime scene, where at least six morgue vehicles were waiting in the residential street to collect the bodies, one AFP correspondent reported.

Drinking is allowed in South African township pubs, commonly known as sheebens or taverns sometimes even located in family homes, where safety regulations are rarely observed.

“The number has risen to 20, three have died in hospital, but there are still two who are very critical,” Provincial Security Department chief Weziwe Tikana-Gxothiwe said on local TV.

A visibly shocked Eastern Cape province chief Oscar Mabuyane, spoke from outside the scene, a building surrounded by houses in an area called Scenery Park.

“It is absolutely unbelievable, we cannot understand it to lose 20 young lives just like that,” he said, condemning “this unfortunate consumption, the unlimited consumption of spirits”.

“You can’t just act in the middle of society and think that young people aren’t going to experiment,” he said.

‘No clear signs of injury’

Provincial police spokesman Brigadier General Thembinkosi Kinana said police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident.

He said the victims at the Enyobeni Tavern were between the ages of 18 and 20. The provincial community and security department official, Unathi Binqose, spoke from the scene, ruling out a stampede as the cause of death.

“It’s hard to believe it’s a stampede because there are no visible open wounds for the dead,” Binqose said. AFP By phone.

A local news website, ShippingLive, reported that “bodies are scattered on tables, chairs and on the floor; without obvious signs of injury”.

Unverified photos shared on social media also showed bodies with no visible signs of wounds.

Local television showed police officers trying to calm a crowd of parents and onlookers gathered outside the club in the city, which sits on the coast of the Indian Ocean, nearly 1,000 kilometers south of Johannesburg.

“Parents whose children did not sleep at home have gathered here and want to enter the tavern to look for their loved ones,” Binqose says.

He said he understood that the patrons were students “celebrating their pens, a party held after writing (high school) exams”.

Originally published as Mystery as 20 found dead in South Africa nightclub