Staircase collapse victim was celebrating her 15th birthday

2015-06-29 18:03
(Jenna Etheridge, News24)

(Jenna Etheridge, News24)

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Cape Town - Anathi Zokufa was celebrating her 15th birthday in Khayelitsha at the weekend when an exterior stairway railing collapsed at a tavern, killing her and several other women, and injuring six more.

The Mfuleni High School pupil turned 15 on Friday and said she was going out to celebrate, her father Zamikhaya Zokhufa told News24 on Monday.

Yellow police crime scene tape fluttered in the wind around Osi’s Place in Makhaza, where Zokufa met her fate in the early hours of Sunday morning.

“She was a very happy child and nothing was wrong. She always used to talk with us and make jokes. She wanted to be a lawyer,” her father said.

He looked after the teen and her siblings because her mother had died a few years ago.  

By the time Zokhufa got to the hospital, his daughter had already died.

On Monday morning, curious bystanders could be seen standing on a dusty verge opposite the tavern, pointing at the stairway and talking about what had happened. An empty 750ml liquor bottle lay in the sand near the empty building. 

“It is alleged that a group of people were moving out of the tavern at about 03:00 [on Sunday] when the steel stepholder collapsed with patrons on it,” said police spokesperson, Lieutenant-Colonel Andre Traut.

He said eight women, between the ages of 15 and 23, were killed. Two of these women were killed when the vehicle they were transported in crashed on the way to hospital.

Six people, between the ages of 17 and 24, were injured.

Police had opened an inquest docket to determine if anyone could be held responsible for their deaths.

“The case is still under investigation and there are no new developments to report,” Traut said.

Youngsters blocking the road

A 42-year-old teacher, who did not want to be named, told News24 that she dropped off friends in the area and drove past the packed tavern around 01:00 on Sunday.

“There were many youngsters in the tavern and many of them were also blocking the road,” she said.

Patrons were drinking and it took her about five minutes to clear the road, using her hooter and the assistance of someone outside to direct people off the road.

Two young women who lived nearby told News24 that the tavern was not normally that full. They said many high school pupils in the area had celebrated “pens down” at the weekend, a term used to describe celebrating the end of mid-year exams.

Under-aged drinking

The city's safety and security mayoral committee member JP Smith said only the police could enforce the Liquor Act.

"If it is true that there were under-aged children drinking in the tavern, then the SAPS need to prosecute the owner for the violations of the Liquor Act," he said.

Liquor licences were issued by the provincial Western Cape Liquor Authority, who had not yet responded to questions at the time of publishing.

The city extended its condolences to the families of the victims. Inspectors were sent to the site and said various directorates were investigating.

Read more on:    cape town  |  accidents

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