Tragedy Strikes Enyobeni Tavern: Bouncer’s Actions Result in 21 Deaths.In a shocking turn of events, an Enyobeni tavern experienced a horrifying incident that claimed the lives of 21 patrons on the fateful night of June 26, 2022. Testimonies during the trial against tavern owners Siyakhangela and Vuyokazi Ndevu revealed that a bouncer employed at the establishment discharged a substance similar to pepper spray, leading to mass suffocation and a deadly crush within the overcrowded venue.
The Ndevu couple stands accused of violating the Liquor Act, with allegations ranging from selling alcohol to underage individuals to pressuring employees to do the same. Tragically, among the victims of the incident were twelve girls and nine boys, their lives tragically cut short in the chaos that ensued within the tavern.
During the court proceedings, Nalo Mtizana, one of the ten witnesses summoned by the State, recounted the horrific events that unfolded that night. She detailed how the bouncer locked the tavern’s entrance, leaving patrons trapped inside as panic and confusion escalated. Shockingly, Mtizana claimed that Siyakhangela Ndevu, one of the tavern owners, witnessed the patrons collapsing and losing their lives but failed to take any action to assist them.
Mtizana’s testimony also shed light on the lack of security measures in place at the establishment. She revealed that the bouncer did not conduct any weapons searches on her and her three friends upon entry. As chaos erupted, the bouncer allegedly sprayed a substance, exacerbating the panic and locking the door behind the terrified patrons. In an attempt to catch their breath, Mtizana sought refuge on the upstairs balcony, desperately informing others about the dire situation downstairs.
Tragedy Strikes Enyobeni Tavern: Bouncer’s Actions Result in 21 Deaths
Unfortunately, the court did not receive information regarding how the locked door was eventually opened, leaving unanswered questions about the rescue efforts that followed. Mtizana is the second witness to testify, with one more State’s witness scheduled to take the stand.
Adding to the gravity of the situation, survivor Mbasa Mpafi, in an interview with News24 just two days after the tragic incident, recounted the terrifying sight of numerous patrons desperately attempting to escape the tavern, only to find the exit locked. Allegedly, the bouncer refused to unlock the door, further intensifying the panic and contributing to the loss of lives.
The trial’s third witness, Nontsikelelo Nokhele, an administration clerk from the Eastern Cape Liquor Board, revealed her encounters with Vuyokazi Ndevu in 2020 and 2022 during the process of granting the tavern’s liquor license. Nokhele explained that she had explicitly instructed Ndevu about the prohibition of underage individuals on the premises and the necessity of security personnel conducting thorough weapons searches on patrons.
“I made it clear to Vuyokazi Ndevu that if she suspected a patron was underage, she should request their identity documents to verify their eligibility to consume alcohol,” Nokhele stated. She emphasized that any refusal to comply should result in immediate expulsion from the establishment.
Subsequent investigations conducted by the Eastern Cape Liquor Board revealed the shocking revelation that some of the victims were minors as young as 13 years old. As a result, the tavern had its liquor license revoked, and the establishment was promptly shut down. The tragedy sparked nationwide outrage and calls for stricter enforcement of liquor regulations to prevent similar incidents in the future.
The trial is set to resume on July 19, with further proceedings expected to uncover additional details surrounding the unfortunate incident that claimed the lives of 21 patrons and left a lasting scar on the Enyobeni community.