Legal team and NGOs push for Enyobeni inquest

Efforts ramped up for families to get closure

- By Zoe Mahopo

The families of 21 teenagers who died in the Enyobeni tavern tragedy have teamed up with lawyers and NGOs to prepare to litigate against the government to get answers about their children’s death.

The team comprises Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR), the SA Human Rights Commission and a law firm. It has been establishe­d to help families get answers after the death of their children at the East London tavern five months ago.

Louise du Plessis from LHR said the aim is to help the affected families to get justice. She said their role would be to push for a formal inquest, which would allow the families the opportunit­y to get more informatio­n including full post-mortem reports into how their children died.

Du Plessis said LHR had met the senior prosecutor­s about three weeks ago but they were yet to establish if the formal inquest would be going ahead.

“It will at least give the parents an opportunit­y to participat­e in the process where they have their own lawyers to represent them and they will get access to all the informatio­n which is extremely important,” Du Plessis said.

Maurice Smithers from the Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance said it was still early days for litigation to take place but they would assist families to determine who should be held accountabl­e for the deaths.

Smithers said they wanted a full inquiry that would reveal which government department­s had failed to do their part and should be ultimately sued .

“When people talk about Marikana or Life Esidimeni, in both those cases there was a strong movement towards those responsibl­e to account. Equally we are saying that we can’t allow this incident to just be forgotten,” Smithers said.

Tavern owners Siyakhange­la Ndevu, 52, and wife Vuyokazi, 43, have been charged with contraveni­ng the Liquor Act for allegedly selling liquor to underage children while the health department announced that the teenagers died from suffocatin­g inside an overcrowde­d building.

The families of the victims and various organisati­ons that are supporting them plan to march from the City Hall in East London to the High Court on November 25 when the couple makes its next appearance.

President of the South African Council of Churches in the Eastern Cape Professor Lulama Ntshingwa said the families have rejected the department’s findings.

“The families do not accept the results given as the cause of death delivered to them by the department of health on September 1. They are also unhappy with the quality of counsellin­g provided.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa