In the early hours of Sunday, at least 21 teenagers, including a 13-year-old, mysteriously died in a nightclub in South Africa.

The students were reportedly celebrating the end of school exams on Saturday night. There were no visible wounds on the bodies. Officials have ruled out a stampede as a possible cause and said autopsies would determine if the deaths could be linked to the poisoning.

Seventeen died inside the bar, while four died later in hospital. The victims included 13 boys and eight girls. Thirty-one others were hospitalized with symptoms including backache, tight chests, vomiting, and headache, officials said.

Most were discharged on Sunday, leaving two in hospital, they said.

Sparking initial speculation among local officials and politicians that this was a case of underage drinking that had gone tragically wrong.

 Police minister Bheki Cele ruled out the theory that the deaths were caused by a stampede, telling reporters outside the nightclub on Sunday that the victims showed no outward signs of injury.

The results of the toxicology analysis have yet to be announced.

Cele went on to condemn the owners of the East London nightclub for allowing minors into the venue and apparently serving them alcohol. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa echoed the sentiment, writing in a statement that the club should have been “off-limits” to the minors.

Al Jazeera reported that one alleged attendee said she snuck out of her parent’s house after they fell asleep so she could go to the party. She claimed that the tavern became overcrowded, so security guards asked people to leave, but no one did.

The Daily Caller reported:

When the teenagers and others refused to leave, the guards allegedly started spraying an unknown substance into the crowd.

“The man at the door, I think he was a bouncer, he closed the door and we couldn’t breathe. We suffocated for a long time and [were] pushing each other but there was no use because some people were dying,” the young woman told Al Jazeera.

“It smelled like gas. I’m not sure if it was tear gas or pepper spray. Then some people died and I also fell asleep for three hours. Then when they woke us up, they also thought I was dead,” she continued. The young woman was reportedly unable to stand after she woke up.

Authorities arrived around 4:00 a.m. after receiving a series of frantic phone calls from people at the tavern, Al Jazeera reported.

“At this point we cannot confirm the cause of death. We are going to conduct autopsies as soon as possible to establish the probable cause of death,” Health Department spokesperson Siyanda Manana said, according to The AP.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a statement. He noted that it was concerning that underage child were allowed into the club.

“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 socio-economic conditions for the youth of our nation.” 

Sources: TheDailyCaller, AlJazeera, The Associated Press

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.