East London police have shot down speculation around the cause of deaths in the Enyobeni Tavern tragedy after media reports claimed the 21 children who suspiciously died at the nightclub in Scenery Park were exposed to carbon monoxide.
Were the Enyobeni Tavern mass deaths caused by carbon monoxide?
The Eastern Cape police commissioner’s office was forced to issue a statement addressing “media reports speculating on the cause of death in the Tavern Tragedy.”
News24 was the first to publish a report claiming that “experts had found traces of carbon monoxide in the victims’ bodies”.
The publication later retracted the headline, confirming this was inaccurate, and that, instead, carbon monoxide was merely considered a likely cause of the mass deaths by external experts.
The article pointed to preliminary observations made by crime scene experts who claimed that a petrol generator was found inside the tavern and, based on the reported signs of trauma exhibited on most of the victims, seen by Dr Solomon Zondi, the chief medical officer at the East London mortuary, conclusions were made that, perhaps, the Enyobeni Tavern victims may have died from some form of chemical asphyxia.
The police, however, vehemently refuse to verify the information, since forensic examinations are still ongoing, and will only be concluded later this week.
“SAPS forensic investigators are still continuing with the investigation into the deaths of 21 children at Enyobeni Tavern in Scenery Park. After conducting investigation in the building structure where the incident allegedly took place, and in the bodies where autopsies were conducted, all the exhibit specimen extracted were then taken to the forensic laboratory for toxicology examination,” police noted.
Eastern Cape’s top-cop Lieutenant General Nomthetheleli Mene chimed in too, warning the media against fanning confusion and insensitively misleading the public.
“As indicated earlier, at an appropriate time and when an official report has been made available by the experts, the family and members of the public will be informed by the relevant authority. We urge people to refrain from making risky assumptions which do not assist our investigations,” Lt-Gen Mene warned.
The final death toll of the Enyobeni Tavern tragedy rests at 21 underaged partygoers, the youngest of whom was only 13 years old.
East London police, assisted by Police Minister Bheki Cele’s high-level team of crime experts from Pretoria’s head office, are still processing evidence collected from the scene of the mass deaths.
“The investigation into the incident is still ongoing. No new information is available at this stage and no arrest made. A statement will only be released once there is a development,” police spokesperson Brigadier Thembinkosi Kinana noted in a statement.