EAST LONDON (South Africa) -- President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa will attend Wednesday's East London funeral for 21 teens who died in a strange tragedy at a tavern nearly two weeks ago.
The service will be held in a large tent. It is expected that hundreds of mourning relatives and residents of East London's Scenery Park Township will attend.
"We expect them (the communities) to be there. Ondela Sokomani (regional chairman of the Youth League of South Africa’s ruling party, The African National Congress), said that they expect them to grieve.
Sokomani stated that there is a deep-seated dissatisfaction with Scenery Park's management. He was referring to the issues of underage drinking, drug abuse, and crime, as well as the failure of the government to provide basic services for the poor residents.
The cause of death for the 13- and 17-year-olds who died in Enyobeni's tavern is not yet known. All of them were below the legal drinking age in South Africa, 18 years. The cause of death is being investigated by pathologists using blood samples. Police have ruled out a stampede because victims' bodies didn't show any serious injuries.
The neighborhood around the abandoned tavern is in a sad mood. Some residents have put wreaths and flowers. The bar was closed by authorities amid concerns about how many teenagers could have congregated in an establishment that sold alcohol after midnight on June 26, 2012.
According to community members, there is an issue with underage drinking.
There is still an odour of alcohol in the club, as the floor is littered by broken bottles of wine, cider, and beer. The bar has been cleared by police and journalists were allowed to view it briefly.
The floor is littered with handbags, sneakers and hair weaves that are all worn out from the night.
Ramaphosa will attend the service amid many challenges, including South Africa's prolonged power outages and wide-ranging corruption allegations. There are also questions about large sums of cash that were allegedly hidden in furniture at the President's Game Farm.
Ramaphosa will give a speech, and the funeral service will include hymns from local choirs, and speeches by religious and community leaders.
The families will then bury the bodies of the teens in local cemeteries.