Shut EC tavern where 21 people died, says National Liquor Traders

The National Liquor Traders' Lucky Ntimane believes that every tavern must follow liquor laws to the book, and none can operate without impunity.

FILE: Picture: SAPS.

CAPE TOWN/JOHANNESBURG - An East London tavern where 21 revellers died over the weekend should be shut for good.

That's the call from the Liquor Traders' Association's Lucky Ntimane: "I think it is beyond devastating. It is shattering that we talk about bodybags leaving the tavern, including that of a 13-year-old. It is actually strange that we mention 13-year-old and tavern in the same sentence."

Many of those found dead in the Enyobeni Tavern in Scenery Park in the early hours of Sunday morning were teens, with the youngest reported to be just 13.

Police are puzzled as to what caused their deaths, with Police Minister Bheki Cele promising to get to the bottom of this mysterious incident.

Ntimane believes that every tavern must follow liquor laws to the book, and none can operate without impunity.

"We've spoken to the minister of police, Bheki Cele, yesterday as well and the national police commissioner, General Fannie Masemola, about the need to tighten the regulations that govern the issuing of licences because it seems that they're just being dished out, like sweets, without doing background checks or whether a person qualifies to have a liquor licence," Ntimane said.

Meanwhile, the police said that their forensic team was going through the tavern where the 21 teenagers died.

There are questions as to why the youngsters were inside a tavern serving alcohol, with the role of the police in stopping this also questioned.

Brigadier Thembinkosi Kinana has responded: "If you've seen our operations as law enforcement in collaboration with the liquor board and other law enforcement in our areas, in our provinces, you may have seen that there's a lot of success that we've had."

He also said that they were still investigating and the owner of the tavern had not yet been arrested.

"We are investigating so that at the end of the day, at an appropriate time, we can give you the outcome of what exactly happened when those kids were there, as young as they are," Kinana said.

LISTEN: Buffalo City Health Mayco Member Sangweni Matwele on the tavern tragedy