Visible grief and uncontrollable weeping were the order of the day during the mass funeral of some of the 21 victims of the Enyobeni tavern tragedy.
EAST LONDON – Visible grief and uncontrollable weeping were the order of the day during the mass funeral of some of the 21 victims of the Enyobeni tavern tragedy where partying underage learners perished under unexplained circumstances.
On Wednesday, the Eastern Cape provincial government and the Buffalo City metro hosted a mass funeral at Scenery Sports Field in East London. Learners from local schools, among them Sakhimkamva and Mzokhanyako, also came to mourn.
The relatives of the deceased took the front row inside the gigantic marquee pitched for the mass funeral.
The day started slowly, with ministers from the national and provincial governments arriving at intervals.
Among the prominent members of the Cabinet was Police Minister Bheki Cele. Cele has locked horns with the relatives of the victims. They say he was insensitive to their plight and that his comments were off the mark.
Cele had recently implied that they were irresponsible parents because they went to bed without knowing where their children were.
The SAPS was led by its national police commissioner, Fannie Sehlahle Masemola. Speaking briefly to reporters, Masemola said the investigation was under way and autopsies were being conducted in the nearby Western Cape province because the Eastern Cape did not have a laboratory to do them.
At around 9am, relatives wept as the convoy of Avbob vehicles containing the coffins made a solemn procession to the venue.
As the coffins were brought inside the venue, the chief mourners wept and wailed loudly, sending shivers among the crowd.
Other mourners gave their distressed family members water in a bid to calm them. Others were seen consoling them and covering their backs.
For a moment, the weeping was subdued by the singing of some of the clergy. However, as soon as the singing stopped, uncontrollable weeping could be heard from the section of the marquee where the chief mourners, the relatives of the deceased, sat.
The mass funeral procession was in motion when President Cyril Ramaphosa later arrived. He was warmly welcomed by the mourners.
Two of the 21 deceased learners were buried last night after their families asked to be allowed to do so in advance.