‘We suffocated for a long time’, S Africa nightclub survivor says

A patron who was present as 21 young people mysteriously died at a local nightclub in the early hours of Sunday morning in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province has shed more light on what happened at the scene.

Authorities said, at 4am on Sunday, the local police station received several frantic phone calls from people about the incident at Enyobeni Tavern in Scenery Park, a working-class community in East London city.

The South African Police Service (SAPS) has launched an investigation.

‘It smelled like gas’

*Sinethemba, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, said she and a few of her friends were present when the bar started to fill up that morning.

The young woman had waited for her parents to go to sleep before sneaking out and claimed that when the nightclub became too overcrowded, people were asked to leave. When the partygoers did not comply, one of the security guards closed the door and began spraying a substance into the crowd, she said.

“The man at the door, I think he was a bouncer, he closed the door and we couldn’t breathe. We suffocated for a long time and [were] pushing each other but there was no use because some people were dying,” she said.

“It smelled like gas. I’m not sure if it was tear gas or pepper spray. Then some people died and I also fell asleep for three hours. Then when they woke us up, they also thought I was dead,” she continued.

Sinethemba said when she awoke, her leg was numb and she could not stand up on her own. She then asked a patron to call her aunt so that she could be picked up.

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