Red flag on security and safety at music concerts events

The disaster at the recent Harare Gardens held Kinnah Birthday Bash brings a sharp reminder of a similar ordeal at the City Sports Centre on November the 8th 2014 at Sting. Whilst the circumstances are different there are several common denominators, same promoter, same genre. 

By Plot Mhako

These two and several other mishaps, some of them unreported raise a red flag on an area that the Zimbabwean showbiz scene has taken for granted for years. Safety and security of artists, crew and audience at venues remain a matter decided by fate. Promoters are more concerned with making money at any cost even when the lives of both those performing and in attendance are exposed to great risk.

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Most venues have poor security and safety features which pose a risk to human life in the event of a possible accident, fire or any violent disturbances. Event personnel is often ill-prepared for such a disaster. Most exit points are inaccessible, small & unmarked, fire extinguishers that are long expired and at times not in place. Venue security that has very limited skill and knowledge on how to deal with an intoxicated, hyped audience in times of crisis. The regulatory authorities …….well I don’t know who is actually responsible…, is it the City councils, security or the National Arts Council. 

Do we have an act or regulations on this? What do they say?  Are venues insured? Who pays the medical bills?

Just across Limpopo in South Africa, they have the Safety at Sports & Recreational Events Acts. An act that provides for measures to safeguard the physical well-being of persons and property at Sports, religious, cultural, Exhibition events. This provides for the accountability of event role-players: to provide for the establishment of measures to deal with security and safety. 

We have seen stampedes at soccer matches, some fatal. 

Back to the recent music concert, the Saturday event saw the collapse of the stage trusses and word has it that the beams were already compromised for the size of equipment mounted on them.

Several people were reportedly injured including those who attempted to help. Valuable equipment was destroyed and some stolen. 

In 2014 at the Sting concert also held by Chipaz Promotions at the City Sports described by journalist Winston Antonio “Cheating death at Sting”, scores of fans were left gasping for breath and scurrying for cover after a fierce lyrical battle turned rowdy.

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Seh Calaz performing at Sting 2014

In response to pelting by fans, the police fired teargas in an enclosed venue. Yes, enclosed! A lot of people were injured and some still have visible scars from the mayhem. In response, the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe set up a probe team whose results have never been made public to date. 

I think it’s about time all industry players put their heads together to deal with issues of security and safety at events boldly to protect the Industry & those who sustain it, to ensure growth, avert possible future disasters and adhere to global standards. 

Food for thought, the plot thickens.

Plot Mhako for #EARGROUND

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