South Africa is mourning the death of 21 teenagers at Enyobeni Tavern in Scenery Park, East London last Sunday from accident poisoning by something they ate, drank or smoked.
However, sources close to the official probe into the death of the teenagers say they may have died due to carbon monoxide poisoning.
The teenagers aged 13 to 17 could have been killed by toxic fumes that may have emanated from a petrol generator that was suspected to have been used inside the tavern.
The unexplained deaths of the teens, some of whom were celebrating the end of school exams and a birthday party, have brought an outpouring of grief and shocked a nation accustomed to injuries linked to a binge drinking culture.
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.
Unverified pictures circulating on social media showed the bodies of youths lying scattered across the floor of the tavern, some also lay motionless on tables and couches.
Eastern Cape police spokesperson Brigadier Tembinkosi Kinana said “We are ruling out a stampede,” he added, after initial media reports suggested this may have been the cause.
President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Sunday he was worried about the circumstances under which young people, at least some under the age of 18 years, were allowed to gather at the tavern. It is illegal to serve drinks to under-18s in South Africa.
The tavern’s licence was revoked on Monday.