Enyobeni tavern horror: Why booze and carbon monoxide are not causes of death


WHAT exactly caused the death of the 21 young people at the Enyobeni Tavern in East London remains a mystery for now, but tests have indicated that they all had methanol in their blood.

The parents of the 21 victims are still without answers.

Eastern Cape health department’s deputy director-general for clinical services, Dr Litha Matiwane, announced at the Cambridge Police Station hall that there is no conclusive evidence to say what exactly led to the deaths.

Matiwane was addressing the media, along with Police Minister Bheki Cele and Premier Oscar Mabuyane, yesterday, 19 July.

Matiwane said the post-mortems were done the day of the incident and toxicology samples were sent to a lab in Cape Town.

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“We have now received the blood results and we found that alcohol and carbon monoxide are not the causes of death,” said Matiwane.

“But methanol has been detected during autopsy in all the deceased.”

Matiwane said the progressive analysis was still being done on the levels of methanol and whether it was enough to cause death.

“Normally, methanol is found in industrial products. You might find it in small quantities in an alcoholic beverage but not in significant quantities to show in the blood,” he said.

“It is something that we are looking at and trying to find out as to how much is there in their blood samples.”

Premier Mabuyane said: “We felt that we needed to update the families. We are happy that families have welcomed the report.”

“We understand that they are emotional about what the government is doing.

“We have to face this together until we come to a logical conclusion.”

The 52-year-old owner of the tavern and two employees, aged 33 and 34, were arrested.

The owner is expected to appear in the East London Magistrates Court on 19 August.

The two employees have been given an option of a fine in terms of the Liqour Act.

Should they fail to pay the fine, they will be required to appear in the same court on the same day.

Cele said they were happy that people will have to explain themselves in court.

“We hope that people will find out as the case continues what happened on that particular day,” he said.

“Investigations continue and we are finding other people who will be able to answer and give accountability for what happened,” he said.

Families were not allowed to talk to the media after the meeting.


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