South Africa: ‘I Didn’t Kill Anyone,’ Says Tavern Owner On First Day of Inquiry Into Deaths of 21 Teens

Siyakhangela Ndevu said that even if the inquest finds him responsible for the deaths, he would be getting punished for crimes he did not commit. ‘I would be like Jesus dying for sins I know nothing of,’ the tavern owner said.

An unremorseful Siyakhangela Ndevu has refused to apologise or sympathise with the parents of 21 young people who died at his Enyobeni Tavern in Scenery Park, East London, in June 2022.

The 21 young people, aged between 13 and 17, died at the tavern while attending a “pens down” party to celebrate the end of the June exams last year.

Thursday was the first day of an inquest to determine whether anyone is legally responsible for the deaths. It is being held at the East London Regional Court.

“I am not going to apologise to anyone because I didn’t do anything,” Ndevu said outside the court.

“I didn’t kill anyone. Children didn’t start drinking in Enyobeni … in June some children were found near the ocean drunk here in East London.”

A handful of people came out to support Ndevu and his wife, Vuyokazi; the couple ran the tavern together. There were two-hour delays in the proceedings because of Eskom power cuts.

The inquest was adjourned to 11 September for the State to provide the docket contents to the court and the legal representatives of those involved in the inquest. It has been transferred to the Mdantsane Regional Court.


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