Lack of township amenities forces youth to 'tavern-prowl', says Sadtu in wake of Enyobeni tragedy

Suthentira Govender Senior reporter
The tragic scene an Enyobeni tavern in East London
FM3006fx Enyobeni Tavern The tragic scene an Enyobeni tavern in East London

The SA Democratic Teachers' Union (Sadtu) says the Enyobeni tavern tragedy is a stark reminder of the “appalling conditions” township youth live under where a lack of amenities forces them to “tavern-prowl” and consume alcohol.

Twenty-one youngsters were found dead at the East London tavern during the early hours of Sunday morning. The cause of their death is yet to be established. The victims were aged between 13 and 17 — nine girls and 12 boys.

As police, their families and the community search for answers, Sadtu spokesperson Nomusa Cembi said the “incident is a sad reminder of the appalling conditions our young people live under”.

“Liquor consumption and tavern-prowling have become leisure activities for many of our youth. Liquor regulations are poorly enforced in townships.”

Cembi said there was a lack of social and sporting amenities in townships and rural areas to keep youth occupied.

“A conversation needs to be had by not only the community of Scenery Park but the society at large on how SA supports her youth.

“Sadtu is deeply disturbed that so many young lives were lost tragically at a place where they were not supposed to be.

“Taverns are by law, not allowed to have patrons younger than 18 years of age. Most of the teenagers who died were younger than 18. Their families and society had high hopes for these teenagers, but these have turned to immeasurable sorrow.

“We welcome the closure of this tavern by the Eastern Cape Liquor Board. However, their action has come too late. This tragedy could have been averted had they been on the ground monitoring taverns to ensure they abide by the regulations.

“As the nation tries to come to terms with this tragedy, questions are being asked and a scapegoat is being sought to apportion blame. We do not want to apportion blame, but someone has got to account. They say it takes a village to raise a child, therefore many have got to account,” said Cembi.


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