South Africa

Enyobeni tavern owners sentenced to 100 days in jail or R5k fine each

Enyobeni tavern sentencing

The controversial owners of the infamous Enyobeni tavern, where 21 children died in June 2022, have been fined R5,000 each or 100 days in prison.

This after being found guilty of selling or supplying liquor to persons under the age of 18. The married pair, Sikhangela Owen Ndevu, 54, and Vuyokazi, 45, acted in violation of the Liquor Act.

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In his sentencing, East London Regional Court magistrate Kevi von Brett said: “Let me say that the extreme punishment on first offenders will be impossible. In this light, I believe the imposition of a fine will be appropriate. When considering the possible suspension as part of it, I would say that would probably be futile. It is difficult to imagine any scenario where the two accused would be issued with another liquor licence at present.”

Guilty beyond reasonable doubt

On Wednesday, Van Brett found that the state had proven its case beyond reasonable doubt that the couple were responsible for the sale of alcohol to under-aged children, and held them vicariously liable for the crime.

This after their failed bid in October last year to have charges against them dismissed.

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The tavern made headlines on 26 June 2022, after 21 teenagers died at the establishment at Scenery Park under mysterious circumstances during a “pens down” celebration following mid-year exams.

Nine girls and 12 boys, aged between 13 and 17, died in the disaster.

According to a final toxicology report by the Eastern Cape Department of Health, the victims died due to overcrowding inside the tavern.

However, families of the deceased teenagers refused to accept the report, amid revelations during the trial of the tavern owners, that a bouncer had allegedly discharged a pepper spray-like substance inside the overcrowded establishment at the time of their deaths.

ALSO READ: State closes case against Enyobeni Tavern couple

One state witness told the court the bouncer then locked the door and fled.

The accused, whose tavern’s liquor licence has been revoked, have maintained their innocence.

Additional reporting by Malibongwe Dayimani