“I wish I hadn’t lied to my parents.”
These are the words of a 14-year-old from East London who told her family she was attending a friend’s birthday party on Saturday night.
She is one of the survivors of the tragic event that claimed the lives of 21 young people in the early hours of Sunday morning at the Enyobeni tavern in East London, Eastern Cape. Her name is not given because she is a minor.
“I have flashbacks where I see some of the people who died right before my eyes. I’ve never seen that in my life,” she said.
The girl, sounding traumatized, could barely finish a sentence without pausing.
“I’m struggling something to do. I can’t sleep, I can’t eat. I get flashbacks of what happened in that tavern. I have to face my parents who know I lied and are disappointed in me. I’m also disappointed in myself because I see that lying doesn’t help and I could have died there,” she said.
One thing she can’t get out of her mind is someone else’s face Girl who died before her eyes.
“The girl whispered to me and said, ‘Please help me, I’m dying’. Immediately after saying that, she gasped. I can say that was her last breath,” she said.
“Her face and her last words keep coming to mind. They keep popping up in my head even when I’m just sitting. It hurts too much.”
She said they wanted to get out of the tavern for some fresh air, but it was difficult to move because it was overcrowded.
According to the girl, the guests started falling after talking about breathing difficulties. She said a strong and suffocating odor emanated from the venue.
“I’m not sure what was sprayed there, but some said security sprayed something.”
Before that she had spent the afternoon with her friends and her schoolmates at a friend’s house not far from the tavern. They arrived at the tavern just after 10pm.
They went in with their own alcohol, she said.
“We had mixed our own drinks. Some had gin mixed with sprite and the others had brandy mixed with coke,” she said.
A local musician who performed at the tavern that night, Lihle Mapasa, has video of his performance up shortly Twitter shared before the chaos with the caption: “Moments before I almost lost my life”.
According to his report, people died from asphyxiation.
On his Facebook page he said , he believed there wasn’t enough security in the tavern.
“I saw that. People choked and started collapsing. It was very difficult to breathe in the small space by the door. Enyobeni didn’t have enough security at the door. Imagine two people stopping hundreds of people squeezing back and forth because some wanted to force their way in while others wanted to rush out because of pepper spray,” Mapasa said.
A memorial service for the Sacrifice Will Be was held at 12 noon on Saturday, followed by a joint funeral service on Wednesday 6 July. This has been confirmed by Agcobile Bungu of the Municipal Committee for Youth and Sport, Arts and Culture.
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