WATCH | Rage festival boss lashes out at media for creating ‘hysteria and panic’ that led to events being canned
One of the founders and major shareholders of the Ballito and Plett Rage festivals has accused media houses of creating panic and hysteria about the events, which he says led to them being cancelled.
Both festivals were cancelled last week after staff and guests tested positive for Covid-19 amid mounting public pressure for them not to continue.
President Cyril Ramaphosa led the call during his address to the nation last Sunday when he said such events should not go ahead.
Greg Walsh, one of the organisers, founders and major shareholders of the Ballito Rage and Plett Rage festivals, took to social media to express his anger and disappointment about media pressure.
“The events of this last week have really upset me. They have brought deep despair and destruction to our organisations and teams. What is going on cannot continue. It is nonsense,” he said.
“In the build-up to Rage we presented to health departments, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases and even the World Health Organisation.
“At the end, with their support and after four months of multiple presentations, we made the following protocols: you had to be vaccinated to attend and you had to bring a negative test on arrival.”
Walsh said significant medical facilities were built to conduct testing for staff and guests on a daily basis.
“Vaccination and testing were our big tools and our defence lines to ensure we could run Covid-19-free events.
“We have to remember, matriculants are not not going to party because nobody provides them with a party. They have had 12 years of school, they had all their freedoms curbed and this was their opportunity.
“Although we only announced the festival when we believed it was safe in September this year, accommodation was booked in January and February.”
He described media pressure as “extraordinary”.
“It was something extraordinary to listen to media lie, spread panic and hysteria and call on politicians and parents for us to cancel.”
Walsh accused the media of ill-informing the public for likes, clicks and shares on their sites.
As an industry we need to stand up against media. We need to call media out in their game, because they keep trying to use us as a tool to tell their version of the story and not our version.Greg Walsh, one of the organisers of Ballito Rage and Plett Rage
“The more you get them to click, share, like and comment, the more your impressions go up and the more your impressions go up the more you charge for your adverts.
“No longer is the core purpose of media to tell you and me the truth. The core purpose is to spread hysteria.
“I would love to see the data of media houses, especially the ones that attacked us, and see what kind of increase in impressions they’ve had in advertising quotations to clients with the outrage and hysteria that has been Covid-19.
“As an industry, we need to stand up against media. We need to call out media in their game, because they keep trying to use us as a tool to tell their version of the story and not tell our version of the story.
“Before Ballito Rage, everyone was tested at home before they came. Nineteen people out of 1,400 told us, ‘I tested positive. I won’t be joining you.’ Two said, ‘I had contact with somebody. I won’t be joining you.’ We refunded them.
“On November 29, we tested 122 staff and all tested negative. On November 30, our opening day, we tested the remaining 63 staff members, who were working that day, and four tested positive.
“We tested the first 777 customers who joined us and 32 tested positive. That is under 4% positivity.
“On the same day in SA the positivity rate was 16.5% and one day later more than 20% of all tests were positive.”
Walsh said both festivals were a service to public health.
“In cancelling them, we were complicit in making the situation, but had no choice because the media put so much pressure on us and so much pressure on high-ranking politicians that even they were left in the position to say, ‘We have approved this, we know we support you, we know it is better for you to stay open because you will test everyone every day, but we’re asking you to cancel’ — knowing these people will stay in our town and party on.
“They won’t get tested any further. We won’t know. But better that than a public media outcry where we as the event organisers are blamed for the spread of Covid-19 when in fact it has nothing to do with us.
“Those people tested positive before they came to Ballito Rage. They obviously did not get Covid-19 at Ballito Rage.”
Walsh said more than 1,000 people lost work because of the cancelled events.
“I’m sorry for my industry that we are regulated. We have to apply for permission every time we open our doors. We are the ones to be shut down first, not the unregulated.
“We need to change the narrative. Media, you need to stop blaming. Stop blaming organisations for Covid-19. It is not their fault.”
Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.