Mourners expressed anger and despair on Monday at the death of 21 teenagers in a tavern at the weekend, as investigating authorities said the youths were probably accidentally poisoned by something they ate, drank or smoked.
The still unexplained deaths of the teens, some of whom were celebrating the end of school exams and others a birthday party, have brought an outpouring of grief and shocked a nation accustomed to injuries linked to a binge drinking culture. Authorities ruled out an earlier-touted notion of a stampede.
Residents of Scenery Park, on the edge of East London, said they had asked authorities to close Enyobeni Tavern down weeks ago because it was serving under-aged kids.
At a prayer meeting at a local church, mourners and priests sang, prayed, drummed on hymn books and cried over the loss of the youngsters.
“I’m so devastated. We are so angry,” Maxhabiso Sibotoboto, 50, whose 17-year-old granddaughter, Monelo, was among the dead, told Reuters by phone from a church memorial service for them.