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Teenagers in South Africa Recall Choking Gas, a Stampede, and One Exit

HealthTeenagers in South Africa Recall Choking Gas, a Stampede, and One Exit

Simbongile Mtsweni struggled for oxygen as a gas that seemed like fire crept into his nose and lungs before he passed out among the crush of humans. Awoken on the second story of a building, “I realised I was laying near to dead people,” he added. “I began vomiting when I recognised.”

Hundreds of students from East London, a city on South Africa’s southern coast, had gathered to a tiny, crowded pub after hearing of a free party with wine and Wi-Fi on Facebook.

More than two dozen youngsters perished in their sleep. On Wednesday, there will be a large-scale funeral, with President Cyril Ramaphosa expected to address.

In East London’s Scenery Park borough, a night of partying turned deadly when young people were trampled to death in the Enyobeni Tavern. Witnesses and investigators, as well as the rest of the country, are baffled.

Lubabalo Dongeni, an 18-year-old high school student, was still limping five days after the event.

Even though there is no official explanation for the deaths, the public and the government alike have been able to choose scapegoats. An inquiry is underway into the licence granted to the hurriedly constructed pub with two levels and just one entrance, and a D.J. who played there claims the neighbourhood is “baying” for his blood. In the wake of the catastrophic panic, many have speculated about who released the toxic gas that filled the air, and whether or not it was directly responsible for any deaths.

According to six witnesses who had been inside the bar and others who were outside, the combination of the mystery gas, crowding, and an airless chamber might have produced the disaster.

There is outrage among the citizens of the township about the local police’s response time for emergencies. As a result of the incident, South Africans are now debating the issue of underage drinking and the role of alcohol in the country. Some argue that the tavern’s location and structure, as well as townships’ slack enforcement of liquor licence requirements, are further systemic problems.

Some of the victims were as young as 14 years old, but the majority were under the age of 18.

The young people who were there on that fateful night are clearly shaken.

Some of a high school football team’s members were already there, but the goalie and one of the midfielders didn’t return home. Anguish over guilt as a survivor plagues the team’s striker.

a 19-year-old woman who helped her 17-year-old friend get into the party where she died blames herself for her friend’s death. In recent days, a group of teenagers came to the bar to place white plastic flowers at its door.

There was a lot of confusion at the entry, a single brown metal door. Dozens of people were still attempting to get inside the celebration on Saturday night, June 25, according to cellphone camera footage. There was little panic when the bar went dark at 12:30 a.m. in South Africa, where power outages are regular.

Survivors said that as soon as the disco lights came back on, a gas filled the ground level. Pepper spray and tear gas have been suggested as possible comparisons by some.

Outside in the very cold winter night, people raced to leave. A group of bouncers slammed the door shut, locking everyone inside, according to witnesses.

People on the bottom level of a 350-square-foot room scrambled over each other to escape as a popular local dancing style known as amapiano banged on the second floor.

All around him, he could hear people gasping, a rapper who had just concluded his act on the second level stated. At that moment, the door slammed shut, and the crush started. His legs grew numb from the pressure of the entrapped persons pressing upon him.

The half-circle of scabs on his forearms, still scarlet six days later, reminded him that two individuals bit him as they attempted to climb over him. When the gas contacted Mr. Mapasa’s wounds, he stated it tingled. 

Survivors reported that the music only stopped when screaming penetrated the chaos. Body parts strewn over the dance floor were lighted by neon lights that reflected off the room’s yellow walls and brown paintings.

At least one person leapt from the second story. Some survivors claim that the bouncers only opened the one entrance to the building after that, allowing them to transport some of the dead outside.

The tavern’s front door is only a few steps away from Nolitha Qhekaza’s bedroom window. Those who leapt from her balcony landed on her roof. She stated she saw the bodies of dead and injured kids on her front yard. After 7 a.m., a girl with a fractured leg lay on the floor of her dining room.

On that particular Sunday, between the hours of 2:25 and 3:35 in the morning, 55-year-old grandma Ms. Qhekaza called the police 10 times, according to her phone records.

Neighbors said that police and paramedics eventually arrived at 4 a.m. Parents pushed their way through the tape put up by the police as they surrounded the area. There were still several unconscious victims in the pub stretched out on leather sofas or laying on the dance floor — the dead and wounded side by side — after the shootings.

Social media users shared pictures of the incident. When some parents realised that their children had gone out that night, they also learned that they had perished as a result of their actions that night.

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