The police were numerous on Sunday to investigate these mysterious deaths in a bar in South Africa.
The corpses of 17 young people, without apparent injuries, were discovered on Sunday in a makeshift bar in South Africa. x27;a township in East London, South Africa, local police are investigating the cause of the mass deaths.
Four other young people who were in this establishment later died in hospital, according to local authorities. The total death toll is 21.
A crowd of people, including parents whose children are missing, gathered outside the bar in a residential area as mortuary vehicles took away the victims, according to an AFP journalist.
Senior government officials quickly attended the scene, including National Police Minister Bheki Cele, who broke down in tears as he walked out of the morgue where the bodies were deposited.
“This is a terrible scene to watch. They are quite young. When you're told they're 13, 14 and you go [to the morgue] and see them. It breaks your heart.
—Bheki Cele, Minister of National Police
The victims are 13 boys and 8 girls.
Near the morgue, a couple who lost their 17-year-old son confess their distress.
Our son was there, he died there. This child, we didn't think he was going to die this way, he was a humble, respectful child, says his mother, Ntombizonke Mgangala, next to her husband.
President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is in Germany to attend the G7 summit, offered his condolences to the bereaved families. He expressed concern about the circumstances in which these young people gathered in a place which, on the face of it, should not have been accessible to minors.
It's incredible, it's incomprehensible, to lose 20 young people in this way, dropped in shock the head of government of the Eastern Cape province, Oscar Mabuyane, who came in the morning to the scene of the tragedy, a simple building surrounded by individual houses.
Empty liquor bottles, wigs and even a pastel purple ribbon reading Happy Birthday littered the dusty street outside the two-storey Enyobeni Tavern, according to Unathi Binqose, a government official in charge of security who arrived at the scene at dawn.
Several parents whose children have been away overnight are trying to find out if they are doing part of the victims.
The victims were discovered in the early hours of the day in a makeshift bar in Scenery Park township, East London.
We continue to investigate the circumstances of these deaths , was content to tell AFP a spokesperson for the provincial police, General Thembinkosi Kinana, without venturing to express a hypothesis on the causes of their death.
A provincial health services official, Unathi Binqose, ruled out the possibility of a stampede or mob movement.
The victims, he said, were likely students celebrating the end of exams and the school year.
According to local newspaper DispatchLive< /em>, the bodies are strewn across tables, on chairs and on the floor, with no apparent signs of injury.
On social networks, some spoke of the possibility of gas poisoning or collective poisoning. Unauthenticated footage showed bodies lying on the ground, with no signs of injury.
Onlookers quickly gathered in large numbers at the scene.
Local televisions looped images of crowds of families and onlookers gathered around this bar in East London, a city of a million. #x27;locals located on the Indian Ocean, some 700 km south of Johannesburg.
Many makeshift drinking establishments – nicknamed shebeens >or taverns – are permitted or tolerated in the townships of large South African cities, those deprived areas reserved for non-whites during apartheid. Regulations on the legal drinking age are not always enforced there.
Authorities are now considering reviewing licensing regulations of alcohol in a country that is among the heaviest consumers of alcohol on the continent.