JOHANNESBURG ( Associated Press) – South African police were investigating the deaths of at least 21 people at a nightclub in the coastal city of east London early Sunday, and officials said most of the victims were minors under the age of 13.
It is not clear what caused the death of the youth, who were reportedly attending a party to celebrate the end of winter school exams.
The local newspaper Daily Dispatch reported that the body was scattered on tables and chairs and there were no visible signs of injuries.
“We are yet to confirm the cause of death,” health department spokesperson Sianda Manana said. “We are going to do an autopsy as soon as possible to establish a possible cause of death.”
Police Minister Bhiki Sele said the victims ranged in age from 13 to 17, raising questions about why alcohol was being served to underage teenagers.
President Cyril Ramaphosa offered condolences to the families of those who died.
“The president is, however, concerned about the circumstances under which such youths gathered in one place, which should be out of bounds for persons under the age of 18,” Ramaphosa said in a statement.
The death toll in this incident increased to 21.
Club owner Siakhangela Ndevu told local media that he was called to the scene on Sunday morning.
“I am still unsure of what exactly happened, but when I was called in the morning I was told that the place was too full and that some people were trying to forcibly enter the tavern,” he said. “However, we will hear what the police say about the cause of death.”