Nightclub Survivor Says Something Was Sprayed

'We suffocated' inside South Africa club where 21 teens died, she says
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 27, 2022 6:12 PM CDT
Nightclub Survivor Says Something Was Sprayed
Mourners attend a service at the Assembly of God Church in Scenery Park, East London, South Africa Monday, June 27, 2022.   (AP Photo)

(Newser) – Survivors of the mysterious nightclub disaster that left 21 young people dead in South Africa say that had trouble breathing after something was sprayed or thrown inside the nightclub. A 17-year-old survivor tells Al Jazeera that she was at the nightclub in the coastal city of East London early Sunday when security guards said it had become overcrowded and ordered people to leave. She says that when people refused to comply, a security guard closed the door and sprayed the crowd with something. "We suffocated for a long time," and people were "pushing each other, but there was no use because some people were dying," she says.

"It smelled like gas. I’m not sure if it was tear gas or pepper spray," she says. "Then some people died and I also fell asleep for three hours. Then when they woke us up, they also thought I was dead." Kamvelihle Matafeni, 18, says she managed to get out of the nightclub after something was thrown into the crowd, the Washington Post reports. She says she heard people yell that they couldn't breathe. "People were falling around me,” she says. “They were dying right in front of my eyes.”

Police say no cause of death has been detemined, but a stampede has been ruled out, the AP reports. Samples have been sent to an advanced toxicology laboratory in Cape Town, but results could take "some time," police say. Authorities say the Enyobeni Tavern was full of young people celebrating the end of the school year. After police were called around 4am Sunday, 17 of them—ages 13 to 17—were found dead inside the nightclub, and the others died in local clinics and hospitals. No charges have been filed. (Read more South Africa stories.)

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