Pulling the plug on Ballito Rage was ‘safe thing to do’

The organisers cancel the event after 36 people — 32 guests and four staffers — test positive for Covid

01 December 2021 - 15:38
The cancellation of the Ballito Rage has been welcomed.
The cancellation of the Ballito Rage has been welcomed.
Image: via Twitter

It’s the responsible thing to do.

That’s the verdict of SA Doctors United — a doctors’ Facebook platform of 11,000 members — on Ballito Rage festival organisers pulling the plug on the controversial event.

The event — which kicked off on Tuesday — fuelled much debate about whether it should go ahead given that scores of Ballito matric ragers tested positive for Covid-19 after last year’s festival.

The organisers announced the decision to cancel on Wednesday after 36 people — 32 guests and four staffers — tested positive for Covid-19.

On Sunday during his address to the nation, President Cyril Ramaphosa expressed concern about gatherings like Rage and said they should be called off.

The organisers said: “After a further exhaustive review this morning (December 1), consultation and guidance from the local and provincial health departments and other key stakeholders, the decision was collectively made to cancel the event going forward based on the data available to us.

“It is our responsibility to act based on facts, collaboration and the resources and tools we have available.

“While we understand the disappointment this causes for those who were looking forward to enjoying the festival, these are unprecedented times. We appreciate everyone’s understanding and support.”

Dr Rinesh Chetty, founder of SA Doctors United and a frontline healthcare professional, welcomed the decision.

“It is the responsible and safe thing to do, especially if we review what occurred last year. The rage events acted as a major national superspreader.

“We have a possible variant that is highly transmissible circulating the country. The level of vaccinations is too slow. The world has highlighted and is observing our response.

“So anything that we can do to curb the spread, flatten the curve responsibly needs to be done.

It is heartbreaking for all of us and especially the younger generation to keep up the social distancing. Remember we isolate today so when we gather again no one is missing.
Dr Rinesh Chetty

“It is heartbreaking for all of us and especially the younger generation to keep up the social distancing. Remember we isolate today so when we gather again no one is missing.

“We will not see the end of coronavirus in our lifetime, but we will learn to start living with it.

“Mask up, be safe, vaccinate and stay calm as we ramp up the vaccine and booster drives. We will get there slowly but surely,” said Chetty

KZN premier Sihle Zikalala also appealed to parents and pupils not to organise or take part in events and celebrations that may flout Covid-19 safety protocols and endanger lives, particularly with the emergence of the Omnicron variant.

He said such gatherings were often characterised by alcohol consumption and risky behaviour “which pose a real threat to human life”.

Jack Abrahams, a DA councillor in Ballito, told Sunday Times Daily that residents were “happy” about the cancellation of the festival.

“Yes, residents are very happy ... considering what happened last year.

“It was obvious that we were going to have the same outcome as last year — in it becoming a superspreader event.

“We do understand that youngsters do want to enjoy themselves. But this will be for the safety of the town and everyone else,” said Abrahams.

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