Hendri Pelser
7 minute read
8 Dec 2020
2:59 pm

(Out)Rage: A party so good it could just kill Grandma

Hendri Pelser

Any idiot knows that if you put a bunch of matriculants in a party situation in the year of Covid-19, there will only be one outcome: a super-spreader event.

Matric Rage events such as in Ballito have been superspreader events and significantly contributed to the second wave of Covid-19 infections. Picture: Knysna-Plett Herald

It is difficult to imagine how the organisers of the Rage festivals thought having the annual matric blowout would be a good idea this year.

Impossible actually.

Just as mind-blowing is the fact that authorities signed off on the “idea”.

The company behind the Rage events is G&G Productions. So far, in public, the only communication has been a statement on the Ballito Rage Facebook page.

Not a word on their website (including the official Rage website). Not a peep on social media. Their listed office number just rings and rings.

So, I asked the organisers a bunch of questions. Some they answered, some not. To their credit, they responded to my email quickly. (In the interest of fairness, all the questions and answers are pasted below).

In total, 1900 tickets were sold. “However, there were never more than a maximum of 500 (people) at any one outdoor event and considerably less at other events,” they said.

Every attendee had to download their App and pass screening tests in order to get into the events.

Video footage on social media show revellers clearly not following health protocols or wearing face masks. In response the company said they “had Covid-19 compliance officers at all events, Red Frogs volunteers at each venue assisting with Covid-19 compliance, and Covid-19 medical specialist teams at all events”.

Asymptomatic carriers

As South Africa went into hard lockdown in March this year, the annual “Spring Break” took place in America. Images of thousands of young people partying it up in Florida caused outrage across the globe. And rightfully so.

As they went back to their hometowns, infections exploded and the US has been on the back foot ever since.

Young people are generally less severely affected by the virus. But, even when asymptomatic, they are still carriers of Covid-19.

Months later, we have an event in Ballito where thousands of youngsters gathered to let off some steam after an exceptionally difficult school year.

Sure, they might not have had a matric dance or the chance to play for the first rugby team, but those sacrifices were made for the greater good. Now, it is all for naught, and South Africa is outraged. Rightfully so.

WATCH: How the matric Rage parties turned into super-spreader events

The organisers have waxed lyrical about their 86-page Covid-19 plan and that they “had to comply with more than 20 additional regulations in order to obtain approval”.

There was hand sanitiser. Payments were cashless. Daily temperature checks.

Blah, blah, blah. Pathetic.

The ‘super’ in ‘super spreader’

Now the hunt is on to find the Rage attendees. In Gauteng alone, 1300 potential carriers are being traced. The Ballito Rage ended on 4 December. Today is 8 December. Each infected attendee can infect three or more people.

As epidemiologist Professor Jo Barnes told The Citizen: “That is where the ‘super’ in ‘super spreader’ comes in. It multiplies so fast.”

ALSO READ: Gauteng matrics’ families also exposed Covid-19 after Rage event

You do the maths.

And when you do, maybe some rage will come to the fore.

At the time of writing, there were 374 comments on the Facebook post. The vast majority unflattering to say the least.

If you need a little something extra to be outraged about, here goes… In the statement they say: “Despite all efforts before and during the festival and at all Rage-controlled venues, we regret that we have received reports that some attendees have subsequently tested positive for Covid-19.”

Despite all efforts… Some attendees.

Wow. Just wow.

Double points if you manage to find the words “super spreader” in the post.

It would be great to call them idiots but the fact of the matter is that they are not.

They knew exactly what they were doing by carrying on with the Rage events during a pandemic.

And, any idiot knows that if you put a bunch of matriculants in a party situation in 2020, there will only be one outcome: a super-spreader event.

As for the matriculants who attended: I hope it was a killer party! Good enough to potentially kill Grandma…

 

Response to The Citizen:

Note: The responses below were sent with the official statement issued on Facebook.

• How many people attended the Ballito Rage event?
Approximately 1,900 tickets were sold this year compared to 5,000 sold in 2019.
However, there were never more than a maximum of 500 at any one outdoor event and considerably less at other events.

• Do you have a provincial breakdown of where attendees come from?
Please refer to point above.

• Do you know how many infections there currently are stemming from this event?
We are not provided with any testing or results data as this remains between the person and the health care provider. We are providing authorities and stakeholders with all the information requested.

• At what stage did the organisers find out that the event was in fact a super spreader event?

• How many of the attendees downloaded the Keep Out Covid App?
Every single attendee had to download and be screened on the app (and pass the required screening) to gain access to any Rage Festival event.

• What is the purpose of the App?
As above. It further provides for the necessary trace and track data.

• Was there at any stage, between 27 November and 4 December, indications that people were becoming sick?
Please refer to statement above.

• When is the first time that G&G/Rage became aware of the extent of infections?
Please refer to statement above.

• A doctor in Hillcrest reported an influx in Covid-19 tests from 3 December onwards. Your response?
Please refer to statement above.

• Was there any proactive communication channels set up with health care practitioners/institutions in the area? If so what were these?
We employed extensive health and safety measures to ensure we complied with all national and local government Covid-19 regulations and protocols, including the submission of a detailed and comprehensive Covid-19 compliance plan based on international best practises and in line with South African event Covid guidelines and requirements.

• If there were proactive communication channels set up with the health care community, did you receive feedback on the spike in infections, and when and how did you respond?
Please refer to statement above.

• Video footage on social media show revellers clearly not following health protocols or wearing face masks. Your response?
We had COVID-19 compliance officers at all events, Red Frogs volunteers at each venue assisting with Covid-19 compliance, and COVID-19 medical specialist teams at all events.

• How many people attended the Jeffrey’s Bay event?
JBay Rage was scheduled to happen from 15 to 22 December. The event has been cancelled.

• Has there been any large scale Covid-19 infections stemming from this event?
Please refer to statement above.

• If not, what would this be attributed to?

• Do date, the only official communication has been a post on the Ballito Rage Facebook page. Why has G&G Promotions not responded directly?
We have issued the above statement to media and have responded to media as requested. We have been in direct communication with all attendees and parents and continue to do as required.

• Why has the December 6 post been the only proactive communication with the public?
Please refer to the above statement.

• Experts say the company could be held criminally liable. Your response?
We are complying fully with all authorities and stakeholders and will continue to do so.

• Why did the company decide to go ahead with these events this year?
Please refer to statement above.

• Besides the measures listed in the Facebook response, surely there was a significant risk of infections in a gathering such as this. Were you at any stage worried that during a pandemic, your events could lead to people being infected?
We employed extensive health and safety measures to ensure we complied with all national and local government Covid-19 regulations and protocols, including the submission of a detailed and comprehensive Covid-19 compliance plan based on international best practises and in line with South African event Covid guidelines and requirements.

• Your response to the outrage by South African to continuing to hosts the events during a pandemic.

• Any other comments or information that you think may be relevant would be appreciated.

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