More than a thousand people, including President Cyril Ramaphosa and many elected officials, participated in this service organized in the township of Scenery Park, near East London (south-east).

Groups of mourners filled a large marquee where around 20 coffins were laid out, a bouquet of flowers on each, and hundreds more gathered outside to follow the ceremony on screens, according to AFP on square.

Amid weeping and prayers, a police band played the national anthem. Most funerals will take place in the next few days, according to several families.

“As a nation, we are hurt by what happened,” said regional manager Oscar Mabuyane. “The young people we bury were the hope of their families and that of our country.”

On Sunday June 26 at dawn, their bodies, on which no signs of injury were visible, were found inside an informal bar in this poor suburb. Survivors spoke of a struggle to escape the crowded place and a suffocating smell.

But the authorities have ruled out the hypothesis of the deadly stampede. The police investigation is continuing and the autopsy results have not been released to date.

“We still don’t know what killed our children,” President Ramaphosa said. “Families need answers, they want to know what happened to their children,” he added in a stern speech about the ravages of alcohol among South African youth.

Among these deaths, the youngest was 14 years old, the oldest only twenty, according to the dates of birth appearing on the official program of the ceremony.