SADTU Statement on the deaths of 21 teenagers at Enyobeni Tavern

27 June 2022

The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU) is mourning the death of 21 teenagers who tragically lost their lives at Enyobeni Tavern in East London on Sunday.

We express our deepest condolences to the families of the 21 teenagers. We hope the forensics team that has been brought in to assist, will work around the clock to shed light on what led to these deaths.

SADTU, as a union in the education, 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. The tavern clearly did not abide by the rules as it opened its doors to these teenagers. Safety regulations were allegedly flouted as the place had a single door.

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.

The incident is a sad reminder of the appalling conditions our young people live under. Liquor consumption and taverns prowling have become leisure activities for many of our youth. Liquor regulations are poorly enforced in townships. Our townships rural areas have no social and sport clubs to keep the youth occupied. If there are any, one has got to pay exorbitant fees to become a member. Netball and soccer fields, if any exist, are not for the public but for certain clubs.

A conversation needs to be had by not only the community of Scenery Park but the society at large on how South Africa supports her youth. The youth are our future.

ISSUED BY: SADTU Secretariat


General Secretary, Mugwena Maluleke: 082 783 2968

Deputy General Secretary, Nkosana Dolopi: 082 709 5651

Media Officer, Nomusa Cembi: 082 719 5157