Enyobeni tavern was 'built illegally' - and had violated trading hours, municipality says

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
  • The Enyobeni tavern may have been illegally built
  • The double-storey building could be knocked down because plans for its construction was never submitted nor approved. 
  • A municipal spokesperson also confirmed the tavern violated trading hours. 

The double-storey Enyobeni tavern in Scenery Park in East London, where 21 youngsters mysteriously died, could be bulldozed because it may have been illegally built.

The Buffalo City metro confirmed it had launched an investigation into the tavern as to whether the structure complied with safety regulations, and how it had been built in a place zoned as a residential area.

The metro also confirmed the tavern, which hosted the deadly event at the weekend, violated trading hours.

The metro's spokesperson, Samkelo Ngwenya, said that, based on the findings of the investigation, it would decide what action to take against the tavern owners.  

READ | Tavern tragedy: Carbon monoxide poisoning suspected

He said it included issuing a fine or launching a court application for the building to be demolished. 

"Demolition could happen, but we will be guided by the findings of the investigation," said Ngwenya.   

Ngwenya said the metro had completed a preliminary investigation, which found "there were no building plans received and approved for the structural renovations on Erf no 37300 in Scenery Park". 

He said:

There was no building plan approved and, therefore, the building was constructed illegally, in contravention of section 4(1) of the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act 103 of 1977. According to our records, there is no copy of approved building plans because the building was built illegally.

Ngwenya said the Erf was zoned in terms of the metro's Land Use Scheme as Residential Zone 3A or Single Residential.  

He said the process was that the owner should apply to rezone from residential to business, in order to operate such an establishment, be it a tavern or shebeen. 

ALSO READ | Eastern Cape tavern tragedy: They danced, fell and died - Bheki Cele

He said the metro's Directorate for Spatial Planning and Development did not receive any application or correspondence to verify the zoning of the property.   

"BCM [the metro] did not receive any land use application and it is confirmed that no departure was granted for the operation of a tavern on this site and, therefore, to operate a tavern is illegal in terms of the zoning scheme," said Ngwenya.  

Approached for comment, the Eastern Cape Liquor Board confirmed the building did not reflect the plans used by the owners to obtain the liquor licence. 

A spokesperson for the board, Mgwebi Msiya said: "The outlet was granted a liquor licence on the basis of a building plan that met the requirements. However, the approved structure seems to have since been altered."

Msiya said the municipality determined the trading times - and, in the case of Enyobeni, the board had set 02:00 as the closing time, while the metro, through its by-laws, set 04:00 as the closing time.

READ | Enyobeni tavern tragedy: What we know so far

Msiya said municipal by-laws take precedence. 

Ngwenya said that, in terms of the by-laws, the establishment had no approved application for their original trading hours to be extended.

enyobeni tavern
A forensic expert enters Enyobeni Tavern on Tuesday.
News24 Malibongwe Dayimani

The liquor board has opened a criminal case on the grounds that the tavern sold alcohol to the minors, which is a direct violation of the Eastern Cape Liquor Act.

Called for comment, the tavern owner, Siyakhangela Ndevu, said: "I don't want to comment. I don't mind, people can say what they want to say.

"I am swamped. I can't be answering your questions all the time. Journalists have been harassing me, I can't even focus on important work. Please leave me alone," he said, before abruptly ending the call.

Never miss a story. Choose from our range of newsletters to get the news you want delivered straight to your inbox.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Zama zama crackdown: What are your thoughts on West Village residents taking the law into their own hands?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Authorities should bring in the army already
11% - 2611 votes
Illegal miners can't be scapegoated for all crime
51% - 12691 votes
What else did we expect without no proper policing
35% - 8555 votes
Vigilante groups are also part of the problem
3% - 850 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.