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Enyobeni tavern bosses convicted in EL court

Thulisile Mapongwana


The two Enyobeni tavern bosses have been found guilty on just one count of selling liquor and conniving with employees to sell liquor to underage persons.

East London Magistrate, Kevin von Bratt, said there was a lot of circumstantial evidence provided by the state and that only the evidence of then-17-year-old Sinemihlali Haka could be relied on to convict Vuyokazi and Siyakhangela Ndevu.

The couple has been battling the charges brought by the Eastern Cape Liquor Board after 21 young persons died in their Scenery Park establishment in June 2022.

During the trial, Haka had testified that he had drank at the tavern before the incident and no attempts were ever made to verify his age.

Magistrate von Bratt said, "it is obvious this was tolerated by the accused, and there was no proper access control."

"I'm probably not alone in suspecting that a lot of young children might have been sold alcohol there.

But while the evidence is strongly suggestive, I don't think it has been proven beyond reasonable doubt that any other minor was sold alcohol," he said.

Also Read: Bouncer testifies how people dropped dead like flies as Enyobeni trial resumes

In their defence, the Ndevu couple took the stand, with Vuyokazi stating she was not present on the premises, while Siyakhangela denied ever selling liquor that night.

"We do not need evidence that they personally handed over the bottles and received the cash. The license holder and the registered manager of a licensed premises are legally liable for any offenses in terms of the Liquor Act," said von Bratt.

Out of the 21 deceased patrons, only the names of 10 people were written on the charge sheet.

"The charges make reference to 10 persons, nine of which were randomly selected from the deceased, there is no shred of evidence that any of these people drank or purchased alcohol at Enyobeni."

He said therefore the court cannot, in a criminal matter, rely on suspicions or probabilities.

The Ndevu's were found guilty of the sale of alcohol to at least one underage person.

An aunt to one of the deceased, Ntombizonke Mngangala said they were delighted at the guilty verdict.

"It makes us very happy, especially for the upcoming inquest [commencing on the 29 February], it will make the case very strong."

Sentencing takes place on Friday and the Ndevu's could potentially face five years behind bars for contravening the Liquor Act.