Mystery Surrounds Death of Teenagers in South African Tavern

South African tavern
Image of the South African tavern where the deaths occurred. Picture credit: Reuters

21 teenagers, all under the age of 17, have mysteriously died in a tavern in the South African town of East London.

Last month, South African Police Service (SAPS) released a statement reporting the death of 21 teenagers at a local tavern in Scenery Park, East London. Authorities had arrived at the scene at 4 in the morning to find seventeen lifeless bodies inside the building. Health officials immediately rushed the rest of the teenagers to clinics and hospitals nearby. However, one died en route to the hospital, one died in the hospital, and a further two died at a clinic. The teenagers were as young as 14 years old.

The cause of death remains unclear, and an investigation is currently ongoing. Many are speculating that a stampede may have caused the deaths. However, due to the absence of any signs of injury or open wounds on the victims, officials have ruled out stampede as a cause of death. According to witnesses, a mysterious gas had been sprayed in the air. Therefore, the forensic teams are currently investigating the dead bodies for potential poisons and toxins.

Earlier this week, the South African police arrested the owner of the tavern and two of his employees for supplying alcohol to minors. In South Africa, the legal age for alcohol consumption is 18 years. However, after the incident, authorities are planning on raising it to 21.

Just as we said in the beginning, investigation is a process and needs to be treated with extreme care and wisdom so that we can achieve the desired outcomes which all of us will be proud of. This is the beginning of the great work we are doing behind the scene.

Lieutenant General Nomthetheleli Mene, Provincial Commissioner

Who do we Blame?

Witnesses to the incident reported that they had gathered at the nightclub for an ‘end of the school term’ party. A post on Facebook had alerted them of free alcohol and wi-fi at the tavern. However, as more and more people packed into the two-story tavern, the bouncers began asking people to leave. But as people refused to leave, he locked the doors and sprayed a mysterious gas into the airless room. Many described the gas as pepper spray, while others said it felt like tear gas. One of the survivors said his nose and throat began to burn from the gas before he became unconscious.

The man at the door, I think he was a bouncer, he closed the door and we couldn’t breathe. We suffocated for a long time and [were] pushing each other but there was no use because some people were dying. I’m not sure if it was tear gas or pepper spray.


It is unclear what the mysterious gas may have been, or whether it contributed to the deaths.

Source: Reuters


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