Witnesses describe how they fought off muggers at Global Citizen Festival

03 December 2018 - 14:09 By Odwa Mjo
Concert-goers have described their terror after the Global Citizen Festival 100 show.
Concert-goers have described their terror after the Global Citizen Festival 100 show.
Image: Masi Losi

Festival-goers have recalled the terrifying experiences that had them fearing for their safety after the Global Citizens concert at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on Sunday.

Some told of being involved in violent confrontations in and around the Nasrec Sasol garage as they waited for taxis.   

"My phone was in my bag and my bag was clutched to my chest, my parents were calling so I pulled out my phone and next thing I know a man jumped me and pulled my hair and arm and threw me on the ground and dragged me," said Fera Farista, who had attended the festival.

She said she was walking to the Nasrec Sasol garage with her sister and cousin after struggling to request an Uber taxi at the stadium's designated area for Uber requests. She blamed it on a malfunctioning of the taxi app.   

At the Sasol garage, Farista was attacked by a man who tried to steal her phone. She said the man pushed her to the ground and dragged her. While they struggled for her phone. Farista's sister Hanaan tried to fight off the man.

She said the man and his accomplices left after her cousin managed to fight them off.

"My cousin does kickboxing so she fought him off while they were trying to take her phone too. There were four men altogether."

Farista said she has minor injuries to her stomach, foot and hand, and that there were no police available to help her or to report the incident to.

After the men ran away, the three women moved into the Sasol garage, where crowds of people were standing and waiting for taxis. 

"All of a sudden we heard screams and huge panic and we all started running. We saw people lying on the ground because of the stampede," said Hanaan Farista.

The sisters said there were parents waiting with their children at the Sasol garage. "Everyone was very stressed and parents were looking very confused."

Another festival-goer, Imaan Moosa, said she heard gunshots in the midst of the commotion. This created further panic with people running between cars. Moosa said at some point someone was "tazing" people in the crowd.

Moosa waited at the Sasol garage along with many others. She said that Uber taxis were unavailable and claimed the taxi fares had soared at that time of night.

Moosa said she was joined by two women who said they had jumped out of a moving police car. She claimed the police officer had barred one of the women from the car because she was about to vomit.

"Two girls had knives pulled on them and gunshots were fired. We had nowhere to go and no-one to run to," she said. 

"The police were directing traffic and only security guards were around the garage and they did nothing," Moosa said.

Haanan Farista said about a hundred people gathered around a police car for safety. She  said there was only one officer at the car. "People were waiting in the cold for hours, scared and some crying, and the police officer wanted to leave."

Another witness, Sinathi Thembela, said he and his friends moved to the garage because they were experiencing network problems and could not book an Uber at the stadium.

Thembela said at the garage they passed a group of men that hinted that they wanted to rob the crowd. "They went straight in, mugging and robbing a whole bunch of people who were standing there. It wasn't long before we heard screams," he said.