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South Africa holds funeral for 21 teens who died in tavern

EAST LONDON, South Africa – More than a thousand bereaved families and community members are attending a funeral in East London, South Africa, for 21 teenagers who died in a mysterious tragedy at a nightclub about two weeks ago.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa will pay tribute to the slain youth.

The 19 coffins were taken to a large tent where mourning was sung by a large choir as the service was being held in the scenery park township of East London. The two families had private burials and service organizers said the display caskets were empty, respecting the wishes of some families. The children will be buried in different cemeteries on Wednesday and the next day, they said.

As the tent filled to capacity, many more mourners sat outside.

The cause of death is not yet known for the 13- to 17-year-olds whose bodies were found at the Anyobeni Inn. In South Africa, the legal age for drinking is less than 18 years. Pathologists are studying the cause of death from blood samples. Police said the possibility of being trampled has been ruled out as there were no signs of serious injuries on the bodies of the victims.

There is a gloomy mood hanging around the Rounddown Inn, where some residents have placed wreaths and flowers. Authorities closed the bar after midnight on June 26, questioning how so many minors could gather at an alcohol outlet.

Community members say there is a well-known problem of underage drinking.

Ramaphosa’s address to the service came as he faced a number of challenges, including increased power cuts in South Africa, widespread allegations of corruption and questions about the huge amount of cash hidden in his own farm farm furniture.

In addition to praising Ramaphosa, the funeral included hymns by local singers and speeches by family representatives, religious and community leaders.

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