The 52-year-old bar owner and two of his employees, aged 33 and 34, are accused of illegally selling alcohol to minors, police said on Wednesday.
The bar owner has to appear in court on August 19, and the two employees have been fined the equivalent of 120 euros.
The teenagers, aged between 14 and 20, died under mysterious circumstances in the informally run Enyobeni Tavern in an East London township at the end of June. 17 bodies were found in the restaurant, four other young people later died in the hospital.
Many students had celebrated the end of the school year in the bar. The fatalities had no visible injuries. A mass panic was therefore ruled out. An autopsy has not yet been able to determine the cause of death.
Survivors reported an acrid odor in the bar. Witness accounts also suggested poisoning. Investigations are still “ongoing,” said Eastern Cape Provincial Police Chief Nomthetheleli Mene.
In the townships of major South African cities, there are numerous informal pubs – so-called “shebeens” or taverns – that are officially allowed or at least tolerated. Alcohol consumption is permitted there for those over the age of 18. However, some taverns are located in private homes, where safety regulations and the minimum drinking age are not always enforced. (AFP)