He conveyed his condolences to the families.
“I didn't mean for this to happen and I sympathise with them.”
He called for calm and for police to be allowed to conduct their investigation.
Meanwhile, President Cyril Ramaphosa has expressed his condolences and concern.
Ramaphosa, who is currently on a working visit to Germany, sent through a statement via his office calling for a proper investigation into what occurred.
“The president expects the law to take its course following investigations into the tragedy,” his office said.
Ramaphosa said: “This tragedy is made even more grave by its occurrence during Youth Month — a time during which we celebrate young people, advocate and advance opportunities for improved socioeconomic conditions for the youth of our nation.”
Police have since shed more light on the incident.
Brig Tembinkosi Kinana said they were informed of the incident at around 4am after a call from community members.
Seventeen people had been found dead inside the premises while the others died in hospital.
“The circumstances surrounding the incident are currently under investigation. Police do not want to make speculations regarding the cause of the incident as that may risk jeopardising the sensitive investigation that is under way,” he added.
Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane also conveyed his condolences to the families of the deceased.
He had rushed to the scene with MEC for community safety Weziwe Tikana-Gxothiwe and provincial police commissioner Maj-Gen Nomthetheleli Mene.
Mabuyane joined Ramaphosa in calling for no stone to be left unturned in uncovering the cause of the tragedy.
He also called for greater parental and community involvement and vigilance in monitoring not only taverns and nightclubs but also the maintenance of general law and order in their communities.
“We call on parents and legal guardians not to abdicate their responsibility to their children or minor children entrusted in their care. As a parent myself, I am pained by this tragedy and cannot imagine losing a child in this manner,” said Mabuyane.
“We grieve with parents and families at this hour and ask for your patience in getting to the facts around this tragic event. We are saddened by the loss of young lives, future leaders of our country, future breadwinners for their families, and for all the investments made by their families in them that now have evaporated in an instant,” he added,
Of the 21 deceased, eight are girls while 13 are boys.
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