The South African Police Service (SAPS) management in the Eastern Cape has asked the public to ignore rumours and media reports speculating on the cause of death in the Tavern Tragedy incident which took place in the early hours of Sunday morning (26 June) in Scenery Park, East London, and which resulted in the death of 21 teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17.
According to reports, a source close to the investigation revealed today that the 21 young people may have died by poisoning from a gas leak at Enyobeni Tavern.
SAPS management expressed its concerns about these rumours, and says: “As clearly articulated in a statement released by SAPS on Monday regarding the ongoing investigations, SAPS forensic investigators are still continuing with the investigation into the deaths of 21 children at Enyobeni Tavern in Scenery Park.
“After conducting investigation in the building structure where the incident allegedly took place, and in the bodies where autopsies were conducted, all the exhibit specimen extracted were then taken to the forensic laboratory (in the Western Cape) for toxicology examination.
“Until such time that the work of the forensic laboratory is concluded, any informal and unofficial information which is not released by the South African Police Service, must be regarded as falsehood and misleading to the public and the affected deceased families.”
In this regard, the Provincial Commissioner, Lt Gen Nomthetheleli Mene cautioned against the spreading of fabricated stories which could cause confusion and doubts in police investigations. “We urge people to refrain from making risky assumptions which do not assist our investigations,” Lt Gen Mene said.
Provincial government spokesperson, Khuselwa Rantjie, said the report will be shared with the affected families as soon as investigations have been concluded.
“The South African Police Service (SAPS) remains on the scene and continues to comb the scene for further clues in relation to the tragic incident.”
Meanwhile, Rantjie said, engagements between government and the families determined that a mass funeral service will be held next week Wednesday.
“Thereafter, families will be assisted with transportation of the remains to be interred at burial sites of their choice.
“Government has expressed appreciation for support that has been received from all sectors of society in preparation for the funeral. Amongst those is AVBOB. The funeral parlour has pledged burial costs support for each family.”
The Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality (BCMM) has waved the grave fees for the burial of the deceased and together with the provincial government, will facilitate other logistical needs to ensure a dignified send-off for the deceased.
Rantjie said food parcels and vouchers were on Wednesday morning delivered to assist with immediate needs of the families.
“The provincial government, together with its partners, will continue to provide psycho-social support to the bereaved families and the broader community. This will include community debriefing sessions to assist everyone to cope with the impact of Sunday’s tragic event,” she said.
The SAPS appeals to anyone who can share information that may assist the ongoing investigation, to please make contact with Brigadier Mxolisi Mqotyana at 082 5292 465 or call Crime Stop on 08600 10111.
Sources – SAPS, Reuters and SAnews.gov.za