by TINTSWALO BALOYI
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa has lamented the prevalence of underage drinking in South Africa, following the recent death of 21 minors at tavern in the Eastern Cape.
The president said as the relevant authorities probed the incident and to ensure justice for the victims, there is a conversation the country needed to address.
“It is the problem of under-age drinking,” Ramaphosa stated in his weekly letter to the nation.
The minors perished at the Enyobeni tavern in Scenery Park.
The youngest child was aged only 13. The footage and images posted online of the so-called ‘pens down’ party at the venue that night show revelling youngsters clutching bottles of alcohol.
Police investigations are ongoing but it is speculated the victims inhaled toxic fumes.
The Buffalo City Metro is looking into whether the tavern violated any municipal regulations.
Ramaphosa noted the increased social acceptability of young people drinking alcohol had become a serious problem in a country where the majority of the drinking population is already classified by the World Health Organization as binge drinkers.
He warned that alcohol use among adolescents is associated with impaired function, absenteeism from learning, alcohol-related injuries, suicidal thoughts and attempts, and risky behaviour.
“We must come together to combat this vice that is robbing our young people of the best years of their lives, and making them susceptible to alcohol addiction,” Ramaphosa stated.
This Enyobeni tragedy is the third such documented incident in South Africa.
Others are the Throb nightclub disaster in Durban in 2000 and the Osi’s tavern tragedy in Khayelitsha in 2015.
Following pleas by the Scenery Park community, Ramaphosa called for the developing of more recreational spaces, facilities, programmes, and projects for our young people in disadvantaged areas in the Eastern.
He said South Africans must set a positive example in their own relationship with alcohol.
“Let us be keepers of not just our own children, but our neighbours’ children as well,” Ramaphosa concluded.
– CAJ News