‘President had no hand in mass funeral decision’

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President Cyril Ramaphosa at the service this week Photo: GCIS
President Cyril Ramaphosa at the service this week Photo: GCIS


Following the backlash regarding the symbolic mass funeral held for the youngsters who died in the Enyobeni Tavern disaster in East London on June 26, the Eastern Cape government yesterday sought to clarify the decision and said President Cyril Ramaphosa had no hand in it.

The mass funeral for the 21 victims was held at the Scenery Park Sports Ground on Wednesday.

Ramaphosa, Eastern Premier Oscar Mabuyane and Police Minister Bheki Cele were among the mourners who attended.

However, Ramaphosa was dragged into the furore after it emerged that the coffins were actually empty.

READ | Enyobeni fake funeral: what was Ramaphosa thinking? 

In a media statement yesterday, the provincial government said it had noted the reaction of some citizens, and “wishes to inform South Africans that the modalities of the service came as a result of broader consultations between the next of kin, Avbob [Funeral Services] and government”.

The statement read:

It is common cause that the families have the final say on the handling of the mortal remains of their loved ones, in accordance with their beliefs. The final approach to this service was therefore informed by those beliefs and preferences.

“It should be noted that the planning of the symbolic mass funeral service and the related consultations with the families and other stakeholders, did not include the presidency.

READ | Many taverns operate illegally in Scenery Park where 21 kids died 

“The president conveyed his desire to attend the funeral, however, his office was never fully appraised on the details or consultation outcomes that agreed on the symbolic mass funeral service,” the statement added.

It’s still not clear why the youngsters – mostly teenagers – died. Police have said that their investigations are still under way. Most of the victims were to be laid to rest this weekend.


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