Preliminary toxicology reports allegedly reveal that methanol poisoning was the cause of the deaths of the 21 young people in the Enyobeni Tavern tragedy, the Eastern Cape government said on Tuesday morning.
All the children who died at Enyobeni tavern were found to have methanol in their blood, but tests are still being done to determine whether it was at a lethal level, said Dr Litha Matiwane from the Eastern Cape health department.
Methanol, also known as wood alcohol, can cause a number of deliberating symptoms if ingeste, including headache, vomiting, drowsiness, nausea and epigastric pain. It can also cause blindness.
“You can ingest it, but it is also a by-product of some other chemicals. We are waiting for those results,” Mathiwane said
The postmortems into the deaths at the East London tavern which happened on Sunday 26 June, were done on the day, but blood samples taken and sent to the forensic pathology lab in Cape Town have only returned now.
Mthiwane said they also tested the blood for alcohol and carbon monoxide poisoning but found that they were not too high to result in death.
“We are looking for other things like by-products of methanol,” he said, explaining that the gastric contents of the deceased were being analysed to get a better picture of what transpired.
The manager of the tavern, Siyakhangela Ndevu, 52, was arrested last week facing charges contravening the Liquor Act. This is as a result that he sold alcohol to underage teenagers.
Source: Daily Maverick, Times Live, image from Twitter