Ticket holders left the Red Hot Chili Peppers concert on Saturday night at FNB Stadium before the main event as they feared for their safety.
With an increasing number of high-profile performers visiting South Africa and drawing thousands of people to big venues, questions are now being raised about safety standards.
Poor organisation, lack of crowd control and oversubscription were the main complaints that inundated social media networks, The Big Concerts and other websites following the stadium event.
Big Concerts chief operations officer John Langford said he could not comment on the night’s events as he was not there. However, he said that all security guards used by Big Concerts were registered with the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority and that all security measures were discussed with the police who supervised the entire event.
In response to oversubscription of tickets, Langford said the venue capacity was carefully calculated with the fire department.
He said negligence “could mean jail time” and was not feasible.
But concert goers took to Twitter to complain about the alleged bribery of security guards for access into the golden circle.
Langford said that in the past, they had sent people to “bribe the guards” in an attempt to root out the problem.
With regard to congestion and poor logistical planning, Dionne Doyman-Mudie of The PR Workshop, that organised the event on behalf of Big Concerts, said: “Yes, a lot of people were coming in. As with all stadiums when the main act is about to perform it gets busy and congested with people from the outside flooding in.”
According to Doyman-Mudie, the same security company that was used for every international act that Big Concerts brought in to perform in the country was manning the stadium on the night.
“Our security standards are the best in the world,” she said.
Yet complaints about Big Concerts ranging from transport and sound quality to theft and security, general logistics and admission control on the Hellopeter website indicated that the same concerns plagued other big international acts during 2012.
Meanwhile, Big Concerts’ Facebook page has been inundated with complaints regarding the alleged poor planning.
“Such a pity your shocking organisation overshadowed such a great band’s performance,” Dominique Grieve wrote.
“Getting into general standing was hell. There were points where things were on the brink of getting seriously dangerous.”
Kevin Jubber who attended the show and owns an event company, asked: “Seriously Big Concerts, when are you people going to employ a professional events person to run your events, where the crowd safety and comfort are actually a concern?”
Provincial police spokesperson Capt Julia Claassen told The New Age that the concert ran smoothly. “There were no incidents reported and everyone had a ball.”
She said an operational response unit was assigned to major events such as concerts and soccer tournaments in accordance with the Safety at Sports and Recreations Events Act 2 of 2010.
The unit comprises police, emergency services and the fire department. A security plan is implemented on the day and overseen by the overall commander who reports any incidents in a report based on feedback from members of the team deployed across the venue.
Late last year US rock outfit Linkin Park’s first performance of their tour in South Africa kicked off on a tragic note when an advertising tower outside the stadium collapsed, killing a woman and injuring 19 other people, at Cape Town Stadium. It was later revealed that the accident was a result of heavy winds which displaced scaffolding from signage by sponsor Lucozade, who subsequently pulled out of the band’s Living Things tour.
Both Lucozade and promoter Big Concerts released statements following the incident. Concerns are now being raised about the safety for the next leg of the Red Hot Chili Peppers tour tomorrow at the same venue, along with the issue of capacity.