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WATCH | ‘The government is failing the youth’ — Scenery Park residents as community awaits answers

Candlelit vigil held on Tuesday night to mourn the 21 youngsters who died

29 June 2022 - 14:35

On Tuesday a community meeting in Scenery Park in East London emphasised the importance of a dignified funeral for the 21 young people who died at the weekend. The meeting was followed by a candlelit walk to the Enyobeni tavern where the teenagers died. 

Community members said they want the truth, justice and action to prevent this type of tragedy happening again. 

ANC Youth League (ANCYL) regional chairperson Ondela Sokomani said: “The safety MEC must ensure only the best investigators are deployed so that from the autopsies they give us the truth about what led to a massacre of young people. We need the truth so moving forward we are able to prevent this happening elsewhere.

“The mere fact that young people have chosen to consume alcohol is a problem and a direct indictment on government and the challenges facing our community.”

LISTEN ‘| We can't have a government that reacts': says ANCYL member on Enyobeni tavern tragedy

Speaking about the lack of law enforcement and regulation in townships, Sokomani said: “Why did the Liquor Board [allegedly] give them a licence without inspecting the facility? We are questioning the integrity and whether that entity is in collusion with people who want to acquire licences irregularly and, quite frankly, fraudulently. 

“Community members also discussed the lack of recreational facilities for youth, an ongoing theme in East London, and said to be the leading cause of underage drinking.”

ANCYL regional treasurer Aseza Somagaca said: “This should be a lesson to SA. We need to keep a very close eye on taverns and nightclubs, including who visits them.”

Somagaca told TimesLIVE one of the main issues affecting the youth is a lack of recreational facilities: “For example, in this community the sport field is only being painted now, after this disaster.

“There are no libraries here. There is no Wi-Fi for the youth. They don’t have anything to do. One thing they do as a hobby is to go outside to drink with friends. The government is failing the youth.

“The families and friends need justice, and we need to know what really happened. You can’t have closure without the truth. There are accusations about gas and counterfeit alcohol, but we need to be certain. We need justice.”

The cause of the deaths has not yet been determined. 

On Tuesday forensic pathologists from across the country arrived at the tavern where a large section of the area was cordoned off. Before their arrival, someone passed through the crime scene, under police tape and past officers to place flowers at the door. 

Sokomani told TimesLIVE there was no political agenda behind the community gathering.

“There is no specific leadership who can take credit for organising this. We are doing it together and across parties. It is a continuous process. It takes time and we will continue to meet.”


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