By Biodun Busari
South African police, on Wednesday, said they have arrested three people following the mysterious death of 21 young people in a township bar.
The 52-year-old owner of the bar and two employees aged 33 and 34 have been taken into custody for allegedly breaching alcohol sale regulations, according to a police statement.
The statement, however, did not disclose the identities and names of the suspects.
Reports from the media stated that the owner will appear in court on August 19 on charges related to selling or supplying alcohol to minors, while the two employees have each been handed a 2,000-rand ($118) fine.
The youths, most of them teenagers, died on June 26 at the Enyobeni tavern in Scenery Park, a township in the coastal city of East London, but the cause of their death remains unclear.
Survivors have described a battle to escape the jam-packed venue, with one reporting a suffocating smell.
The police have yet to conclude in their investigation, and although officials have ruled out a stampede, autopsy results have not yet been made public.
“Just as we said in the beginning, investigation is a process and needs to be treated with extreme care and wisdom so that we can achieve the desired outcomes,” Eastern Cape provincial commissioner Nomthetheleli Mene said in a statement.
At a memorial service last week, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa attributed the deaths on the “scourge of underage drinking” and vowed to crack down on “unscrupulous” bar keepers who contravened regulations.