Enyobeni Tragedy | Residents plead for recreational facilities to take youth from substance abuse

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Enyobeni tavern in Scenary Park. Photo: Malibongwe Dayimani
Enyobeni tavern in Scenary Park. Photo: Malibongwe Dayimani


Youth in Scenary Park in East London in the Eastern Cape have implored the community leaders, government and various stakeholders to provide recreational facilities for young people in the township.

The concerns were raised on Thursday afternoon ahead of a candlelight ceremony outside Enyobeni Tavern where 21 youngsters died in mysterious circumstances on Sunday morning.

The youth, parents and relatives whose children died in the tragedy are calling for an immediate intervention to help young people steer away from drugs and alcohol.

Underage children were among the 21 youngsters who died. They were in the tavern celebrating the start of school holidays. Police are still investigating the cause of the deaths.

READ: Talk to your children about alcohol abuse after Enyobeni tragedy – psychologist

Community youth leader Nonhle Biti said the lack of recreational activities was failing young people.

“There are no facilities for young people, there is no library, there are no proper sports fields. We have nothing. This is part of the reason young people here are into alcohol and drug abuse. We would like to have an art centre, a library and sports fields,” Biti said.

Nonkululeko Vika, whose 18-year-old son survived the tragedy, described the mood during the week as being “heavy and sad”.

“My son is currently going through counselling. It’s still hard to believe [that so many died in the tavern]. Yesterday, we went to the memorial service of one of my son’s friends.” Vika said:

It was a sad moment for both the children and the parents.

“We would like our children to participate in meaningful activities because they will end up getting used to these harmful substances.”

ANC Youth League regional chairperson Ondela Sokomani echoed Vika’s sentiments.

“The young people are distraught and emotionally disturbed by this incident. It is unfortunate that teenagers are resorting to recreational activities that involve alcohol in a facility such as a tavern.

“The activities young people should be involved in require a commitment from government. There are non-existent recreational facilities here. This is a post-apartheid township.

So, it cannot be that we have a township that has very few to non-existence recreational and economic activities that benefit young people. Substance abuse should not even be an option for the youth,” said Sokomani.

READ: ‘How I made it out of that tavern of death’ - young survivor

Meanwhile, the Eastern Cape police have warned against speculation on the cause of the deaths. Provincial police spokesperson Tembinkosi Kinana said the investigations were still ongoing.

He warned people against spreading rumours about what might have happened. Kinana said:

The SA Police Service (SAPS) forensic investigators are continuing with the investigation.

“After conducting the investigation in the building where the incident took place, and autopsies on the bodies, all the specimens extracted were then taken to the forensic laboratory for toxicology examination.”

“Until the work of the forensic laboratory is concluded, any informal and unofficial information which is not released by the SAPS must be regarded as falsehood and misleading to the public and the affected deceased families.”


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