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South African police are looking for leads after 21 teenagers die in a bar

#South #African #police #leads #teenagers #die #bar

Police in South Africa on Monday combed a township tavern for evidence following the mysterious overnight death of 21 teenagers.

Most of the victims, some as young as 13, were found dead in a popular bar in the southern city of East London. Some later died in hospital.

They showed no visible signs of injury, sparking speculation among local officials and politicians that this was an underage drinking case gone tragically wrong.

Special investigators from Pretoria were rushed to the scene of the crime.

“Detectives will resume their work at the crime scene today,” regional police spokesman Thembinkosi Kinana told AFP.

Many of the victims are believed to have been students celebrating the end of their high school exams, officials said.

Autopsies are being conducted to see if the deaths could be linked to poisoning.

“The autopsies (were) completed by last night and the bodies will be delivered to their families today,” said Yonela Dekeda, spokeswoman for the provincial health authority.

Forensic analysis will be conducted this week.

“Samples were taken and were on the first flight today to Cape Town where the tests will be conducted,” said Unathi Binqose, a government security official.

Drinking in South Africa is legal for those over the age of 18.

But in township taverns, which are often adjacent to family homes, safety and drinking age laws are not always enforced.

President Cyril Ramaphosa is among those who have raised concerns.

The teenagers are said to have “gathered in a place that, at first glance, should be off-limits to anyone under the age of 18,” he said.

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