The American pop star Beyoncé and a claimed 58 heads of state attending a “Global Citizen” concert got a taste of the anarchy reigning in ANC-run South Africa when hundreds of screaming concertgoers were seen running away from gangs of muggers and armed robbers.
The politically correct event, billed as a charity concert on 2 December “to celebrate the legacy and the centenary of South Africa’s first democratic president Nelson Mandela”, took place at the huge FNB stadium at Nasrec, just south of Johannesburg. The stadium is almost within walking distance of Soweto, the country’s largest urban concentration of blacks where gangs operate with impunity and where 93 percent of electricity is routinely stolen from the municipality.
According to Stadium Management South Africa, “Global Citizen Festival Mandela 100 hosts included Naomi Campbell, Bonang Matheba, Sir Bob Geldof, Gayle King, Tyler Perry, and Forest Whitaker”.
Beyoncé and the Afro-American rapper Jay-Z were seen together on the stage at about 7.00 pm. However, as the concert ended and Beyoncé was whisked away by helicopter to the luxury Saxon hotel in Sandton, violence and robberies broke out with concertgoers unable to get away from the scene. Cellphone communications also broke down and most were unable to call or text. Many converged on a Sasol filling station near the stadium where Uber taxis were available for transporting them away.
But the Sasol garage became the scene of the worst muggings and robberies. One young black vlogger from Johannesburg, known as Lasizwe, attended the concert. Afterwards, he posted a YouTube comment entitled “I almost got killed at Global Citizen”. In the video at around 5:17 he confirms that “… in the midst of all of these things, the South African Police Service was nowhere to be found”.
Another eyewitness confirmed on Twitter that “the police did nothing”.
#GlobaCitizenFestivalSA so heart broke by what was happening at sasol garage and outside the stadium I even tripped and fell. Thank God no one fell on me. Witness so many robberies. Police did nothing.
— Anele (@AneleBethuna) December 3, 2018
The almost complete absence of the police took on an absurd or even comic aspect when top police officials responded to media enquiries by saying that “there were not enough senior members on duty at the Global Citizen Festival at the FNB Stadium to instruct junior members to respond to calls for help from the public”. That’s it: in South Africa, a policeman will only respond to a call for help from a victim if a senior officer instructs him to do so.
FWM spoke to members of the South African Police, as well as the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department. While preferring to remain anonymous, they told us that they had strict orders to engage only in “visible policing” from within their vehicles.
“We were told to drive around the stadium to show visibility,” they said. However, when the robberies and fights broke out, they did not have orders to get out of their vehicles and assist anybody.
As there were no “senior officials” on the scene to change their orders, they stayed within their cars and vans. One police van was completely mobbed by terrified concertgoers fleeing the attackers, desperately seeking the protection of the inactive police.
The South African minister of police, Bheki Cele, admitted during the week that “police could have responded better to crime around the stadium on Sunday night”. He claimed that fifty complaints had been laid with police, leading to five cases that had already come before the courts. Six people were apparently in police custody on charges relating to the robberies on Sunday night after the concert.
An excuse offered by the police for not responding to the crime spree at the Sasol garage was that “the area was not part of our security plan”. Cele admitted that policing cannot be effective with such a principle.
“That’s why when we are crying to say we could have better responded and promptly so. But to say there is an area that there’s no responsibility for SAPS to police the area, that cannot be so,” the police minister said during a press conference this week.
Global Citizen, the organisers of the concert, said they were “deeply disturbed” by the events. “The safety of our guests is always of paramount importance to us and we understand and strongly empathise with their hurt and anger,” Andrew Kirk, global director of PR for Global Citizen, said in a statement.