Probe underway as 22 people die in South African pub, cause unclear

East London, South Africa Updated: Jun 26, 2022, 08:25 PM(IST)

South Africa police investigating deaths at East London tavern. Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

A police spokesman told the Newzroom Africa television channel that the "circumstances surrounding the incident are under investigation" 

A senior safety official said that at least 22 people died at a makeshift nightclub in a township in South Africa's southern city of East London on Sunday (June 26). An official informed that the victims were aged between 18 and 20 years. Bodies were found at the Enyobeni Tavern but the cause of death is still unclear. Media reports mentioned that several people were injured. 

Siyanda Manana, a spokesperson for the Eastern Cape provincial health department, told news agency Reuters: "We are going to immediately be embarking on autopsies so we can know the probable cause of death." 

"We are talking 22 bodies right now," Manana added. 

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A local newspaper website, DispatchLive, reported that "bodies are lying strewn across tables, chairs and on the floor; with no obvious signs of injury". 

Several unverified photos of the incidents were circulated on social media forums. They also showed bodies with no visible signs of wounds. 

The provincial community and safety department official Unathi Binqose ruled out a stampede as the cause of death. 

Binqose told AFP by telephone that "it's difficult to believe it's a stampede as there are no visible open wounds to those dead". 

A police spokesman told the Newzroom Africa television channel that the "circumstances surrounding the incident are under investigation". "We do not want to make any speculations at this stage," Brigadier Tembinkosi Kinana said. 

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The head of the Eastern Cape Province Oscar Mabuyane was shocked as he spoke from outside the scene. He said, "It's absolutely unbelievable, we can't understand it, losing 20 young lives just like that." 

He condemned the "unfortunate consumption, unlimited consumption of liquor". He added, "You cant just trade in the middle of society like this and think that young people are not going to experiment." 

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