Eastern Cape Premier, Oscar Mbuyane has visited the Enyobeni Tavern in Scenery Park in East London where the bodies of nearly 20 underage children were found.
The dead were partying at the tavern late on Saturday night, when they were allegedly exposed to a poison which resulted in a stampede.
Police have opened an inquest docket into their deaths and are investigating the exact cause of death.
Mbuyane this morning described the incident as “shocking” and said it cast a spotlight on liquor licences and how they were enforced.
“You can’t just have a tavern in the middle of a residential area,” he said.
Mbuyane said that senior police, including police minister Bheki Cele were expected to arrive at the scene today.
“There are almost 20 lives that have been confirmed dead from where we are standing and there are more in hospital that are critical. These are young people, and we as a government are very concerned. We want to allow investigations to continue,” he said.
Initial reports from the scene indicated that as many as 22 people had died but this figure was revised down to 17, then 18 at the time of going to press.
The death figures are expected to continue to increase.
Unathi Binqose, spokesperson for the Department of Community Safety in the Eastern Cape said police had opened an inquest docket and was investigating.
He could not say if the tavern owner would be charged in relation to the incident.
He said that several mortuary vans had collected the dead.