More than a thousand grieving family and community members attend the funeral in South Africa’s east London forin a mysterious nightclub tragedy nearly two weeks ago.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa was to deliver the eulogy for the deceased youngster.
Sorrowful hymns were sung by a large choir as 19 coffins were carried to a large tent where the service is taking place in Scenery Park township in East London. Two families held private burials and service organizers said the caskets on display were empty, in accordance with some families’ wishes. The children are to be buried in various cemeteries later Wednesday and in the coming days, they said.
As the tent filled to capacity, many other mourners sat outside.
We still don’t know what caused the, aged 13 to 17, whose bodies were found in the Enyobeni tavern. Not all had reached the legal drinking age of 18 in South Africa. Pathologists study the cause of death from blood samples. A stampede was ruled out because the bodies of the victims did not have serious injuries, police said.
Sinovuyo Monyane, 19, who was hired by the bar to promote a liquor brand, said last week she was still “confused” but felt lucky to be alive.
She said she had difficulty escaping through a crowded doorway.
“We tried to move through the crowd shouting ‘please let us through’ and others were shouting ‘we’re dying, guys’ and ‘we’re suffocating’ and ‘there’s people who can’t breathe,'” she told AFP. .
“I passed out at the time. I was out of breath and there was a strong smell of spray in the air. We thought it was pepper spray,” she said .
She later regained consciousness after someone doused her with water.
“I got up and realized there were bodies lying around. I saw people being poured water, but those people didn’t even move,” she said. stated in a telephone interview. “I could have died.”
A somber mood hangs over the neighborhood surrounding the dilapidated tavern, where some residents have laid wreaths and flowers. Authorities shut down the bar, amid speculation how so many underage teenagers could have gathered at an establishment selling alcohol after midnight on June 26.
Community members say there is a well-known problem of underage drinking.
Ramaphosa’s address to the service comes as he faces several challenges, including prolonged power cuts in South Africa, numerous corruption allegations and questions about large amounts of cash allegedly hidden in furniture from his own game farm.
In addition to Ramaphosa’s eulogy, the funeral service is to include hymns from local choirs and addresses from family representatives, religious and community leaders.
AFP contributed to this report.