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A Celebratory Night Out, Turned Tragedy: 21 Teenagers Found Dead in South African Nightclub

South African authorities are investigating a mysterious tragedy that resulted in 21 dead teenagers found in a nightclub in East London, South Africa. On Monday, June 27, 2022, there is still no official ruling on the cause of death. 


The youngest victim found was a 13-year-old girl, and it has been released that the underage children were celebrating the end of their school exams. On Sunday, June 28, 2022, police found the victims sprawled across the floors, laying on tabletops and slouching in chairs throughout the club. The victims were dispersed very strangely. 


South Africa’s Daily Dispatch newspaper reported Sunday that bodies were found “lying bizarrely as if they collapsed to the floor suddenly while dancing or in the middle of a conversation.”


Some light has been shed on the situation by 18-year-old Kamvelihle Matafeni, a survivor of this tragedy. In a report done by The Washington Post Matafeni explains that she saw something flung through the door, and directly into the crowd. 


Surrounding teens began to panic and scream. “I can’t breathe,” she heard them yell in pure terror. “I’m choking.” She shoved her way toward the door, struggling for air. “People were falling around me,” she said. “They were dying right in front of my eyes.” 


South Africa’s official drinking age is 18, but is known to not often be strictly carried out. Community officials have called for the nightclub to be shutdown, and placing a stricter enforcement on liquor laws in poor neighborhoods in South Africa, as they are known to not strongly enforce. 


While addressing this situation with the media, police minister, Bhakti Cele began to sob hysterically in front of a mortuary. 


“You have heard the story that they are young, but when you see them, you realize that is a disaster,” Cele told a local news station Sunday. “When you look at their faces, you realize that we are dealing with kids.”


“Twenty-one of them. Too many."


Worldwide speculation has led to many theories, including a stampede, but that has also been ruled out by authorities. A possible gas leak is still swirling citizen’s minds, as well as raised carbon monoxide levels. Police have sent toxicology samples to the laboratory to see if the teens may have ingested a poisonous substance.


A representative with the community safety department claimed that the most substantial theory with the evidence they have at the moment is that something that the teenagers ingested or inhaled killed them. This relates directly back to Matafeni, who described the substance in the air to taste like tear gas, or pepper spray. 


No official rulings have been made at the moment, and there is no set date for the results of the toxicology report. 


 


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