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South Africa to host ‘biggest country fest outside US’

A new two-day country music festival is coming to South Africa this autumn, in what organisers are calling one of the genre’s largest events outside of the US.

The inaugural Cape Town Country Music Festival is set for 26-27 October at the 60,000-capacity DHL Stadium. Since its first show in 2011, the stadium has hosted international acts including U2, Rihanna, Foo Fighters, and Justin Bieber.

American artists Kip Moore and the Zac Brown Band will lead the programme, with an array of local and international artists set to perform across the two days. US country stars Darius Rucker, the Brothers Osborne, and others will join the lineup, in addition to 10 South African artists.

The festival builds on recent success for country music in the African country, with Moore selling 44,000 tickets across three shows last spring in Cape Town and Pretoria.

“The door is now wide open for the entire country music genre”

“When we went to SA for the first time last year, the surprising part was it felt like a grassroots fan base that had been with us all along. There was a spark in that audience that I’ve been itching to light again,” Moore says.

Local DJ and Heroes Events producer Wimpie van der Sandt, who helped bring Moore to Africa in 2023, is producing the festival. The founder of Afrikaans-broadcasting BOK Radio made history last year as the first South African to receive a Country Music Association award nomination in the international country broadcaster category.

“The success we had last year with Kip Moore in South Africa proved there’s a vibrant and healthy country music scene over here. People in the music industry were sceptical when we explored the market, but we proved the concept and that gave us confidence to build the biggest country festival in the world outside the US,” van der Sandt says.

One of Moore’s managers, Gaines Sturdivant of Red Light Management, will serve as an executive consultant.

“Wimpie and I dreamt up this idea together on a napkin after watching Kip’s jaw-dropping success in South Africa last year. I am incredibly proud of the new ground Kip has plowed for country music and music in general.”

“CTC ’24 is the next iteration, and the door is now wide open for the entire country music genre,” Sturdivant says.

Tickets for the October event go on sale tomorrow, 16 February.

 


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Burna Boy’s South Africa gig axed amid fraud claim

A concert by Burna Boy in South Africa has been cancelled following a fraud allegation against one of its organisers.

The Nigerian Afro-fusion superstar was due to perform at the 90,000-cap FNB Stadium in Johannesburg this past Saturday (23 September), but the concert was called off in the days leading up to it amid speculation of poor ticket sales.

However, promoter Ternary Media Group says it pulled the plug after CEO Sedote Nwachukwu was accused of stealing R10m (€500,000) from the company.

“Due to pending legal proceedings relating to an upcoming Burna Boy concert in Johannesburg, the event has been postponed,” it says, as per TimesLive.

The firm says it has relieved Nwachukwu of his duties “until further notice” in light of the allegations made by his business partner Gregory Wings, and is cooperating with the authorities. Nwachukwu, who tells Sowetan Live that around 20,000 tickets had been sold for the show, denies stealing the cash and has made a counter-claim against Wings.

A spokesperson for Gauteng provincial police confirms that a fraud case had been opened and was under investigation.

“Production vendors have still not been paid, and as such, it is evident at this point that the agreed production standard needed for this venue size can’t be achieved”

Burna Boy’s management issued a statement to Business Insider Africa regarding the cancellation, blaming promoters for failing to fulfil their “contractual, production, financial, and technical obligations”.

“Sadly, it is with great regret that we must inform you that despite my team’s effort, the show on September 23rd in Johannesburg will be cancelled over the inability of the promoters to fulfil their contractual, production, financial and technical obligations,” says the statement.

“Production vendors have still not been paid, and as such, it is evident at this point that the agreed production standard needed for this venue size can’t be achieved. Deepest apologies to all fans; all ticketing companies must ensure it is fully refunded. Looking forward to seeing you all soon.”

Organisers say the event will be rescheduled for 16 December, but FNB Stadium bosses say a contract is yet to be signed.

This summer, Burna Boy became the first ever African artist to headline a UK stadium, performing the 60,000-cap London Stadium in June.

 


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Report lifts lid on ‘South Africa’s Fyre Festival’

A new report has shed fresh light on a failed music spectacular in South Africa that was abruptly cancelled days before it was due to take place, drawing comparisons with the disastrous Fyre Festival.

The 100,000-cap TribeOne Dinokeng Festival was scheduled to be staged in Dinokeng, near Cullinan, from 26-28 September 2014 – pre-dating the Fyre fiasco by almost three years – but was pulled by organisers after selling just a few hundred tickets.

The project, billed as “Africa’s biggest festival”, was to be hosted by the City of Tshwane and helmed by Sony Music Entertainment (SME) and its partner, pan-African music and entertainment production, content and events firm Rockstar 4000.

Hundreds of artists, including headliner Nicki Minaj, Wizkid, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Kid Ink and J-Cole, were set to perform on three main stages at the festival.

But with tens of millions of rands of public money already spent, the event – led by Sony executive (now SME Africa MD) Sean Watson and Rockstar 4000 founder and CEO Jandre Louw – was axed, with promoters saying the host city had failed to meet infrastructure deadlines.

With three weeks to go until the event, organisers said only 4,000 tickets had been sold. It later emerged the actual total was 318

“Site preparation and related infrastructure development required to host the festival… fell behind schedule to a material extent, such that it was no longer realistically possible to stage and deliver the festival to the scale and quality that the organisers had always planned,” said a statement at the time.

However, nine years on, an exhaustive investigation by the Daily Maverick has uncovered more comprehensive details of the failed festival.

According to leaked documents, the mayoral committee pledged up to R20 million (€964,000) in public funds to build the festival’s infrastructure, with an additional R25m (€1.2m) to be paid to a “Sony Joint Venture” – thought to be Tribeone Festivals Pty Ltd, a company registered by Louw in 2012 – for the first year of a three-year, three-festival deal. But despite the city being unable to bear the costs alone, the agreement contained “no specific financial obligations” for the music executives.

Alarm bells rang among city officials in mid-June, around three months before the festival, when the City of Tshwane Group head of communications, marketing and events wrote to Louw expressing fears that their plans appeared to be in disarray – amid concerns over the progress of promised sponsorships and marketing – and ticket prices not even set.

Tickets did not go on sale until 12 August. With three weeks to go until the event, organisers said only 4,000 tickets had been sold (it later emerged the actual total was 318). Nine days after Louw had approached the city to underwrite a further R20m to help cover the financial shortfall, Louw and Watson cancelled the contract on 12 September and allegedly refused to negotiate a postponement or relocation.

Investigators criticised the event as “risky, ill-conceived and poorly executed”

The City of Tshwane went to the high court in a bid to compel the staging of the festival, but withdrew its application after learning that Watson and Louw had already cancelled the entire line-up.

“Emails from a number of booking agents… [indicated] that artists were booked, but that the deposit was still outstanding or that the artist has not received the balance of the amount due,” wrote investigators, who criticised the event as “risky, ill-conceived and poorly executed by inexperienced music executives”, in their forensic report.

Many of the suppliers, other companies and individuals left with unpaid invoices were reportedly told that Tribeone Festivals Pty Ltd had collapsed and could not fulfil its financial obligations.

Sony, Watson and Louw did not respond to DM‘s requests for interviews.

Legal action initiated by the City of Tshwane against Watson, Louw, Sony and Tribeone Festivals Pty Ltd is still pending.

 


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Big Concerts ‘ecstatic’ as SA drops restrictions

South Africa’s largest promoter Big Concerts has spoken of its relief after the government finally dropped the country’s remaining coronavirus measures.

Restrictions had included mandatory mask-wearing in indoor public spaces, border checks for Covid-19 and – most pertinently for the live music business – capacity limits of 1,000 people indoors and 2,000 people outdoors.

Live Nation-owned Big Concerts has upcoming dates scheduled with the likes of OneRepublic, David Gray and Foreigner, as well as two huge shows with Justin Bieber at Cape Town’s DHL Stadium (28 September) and FNB Stadium in Johannesburg (1 October).

“The road to economic recovery starts today”

“It was nerve-wracking because our timing was impeccable,” says Big Concerts CEO Justin van Wyk, reports Eyewitness News. “We had just announced Justin Bieber and two weeks later, our scientists announced Omicron. We are ecstatic with this news, it is going to be a great summer. The road to economic recovery starts today.”

According to Reuters, the lifting of measures followed a decline in the number of Covid infections and deaths.

Big Concerts has been involved in nearly every major international live event promoted in South Africa since the 1990s, including the 1992 concert by Paul Simon which marked the end of a 10-year international ban on foreign artists during the Apartheid era.

Live Nation acquired a controlling interest in the Cape Town-based promoter in 2016. The two companies have been working together since mid-2009, when Big Concerts became exclusive promotion partner for all LN tours in South Africa.

Ticketmaster expanded to South Africa earlier this year, opening a new headquarters in Cape Town.

 


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Ticketmaster enters South Africa

Ticketmaster is expanding to South Africa, opening a new headquarters in Cape Town.

Sporting teams, artists, promoters, festivals and venues will be able to take full advantage of Ticketmaster’s suite of products and digital ticketing tools.

The official announcement follows Ticketmaster’s highly successful on-sale for Justin Bieber’s Justice World Tour, the first-ever major international tour to sell all tickets online in South Africa, and the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2022 on sale which is set to deliver the country’s first-ever 100% digital sporting event.

“As a popular stop for the world’s biggest artists and major international sporting events, South Africa is a natural choice for us,” says Mark Yovich, president of Ticketmaster.

“As a popular stop for the world’s biggest artists and major international sporting events, South Africa is a natural choice”

“Our unparalleled technology and continued investment in innovation will enable our South African team to provide the best ticketing experience to event organisers, venues and fans across the country.”

Justin Van Wyk, managing director of Ticketmaster South Africa, says: “Our local team of experts have been living and breathing live events for 20+ years and are ready to bring their industry-wide knowledge coupled with the world’s largest ticket marketplace to clients and fans here.

“As a country rapidly adopting digital technology, South African fans are sure to embrace Ticketmaster’s industry-leading digital ticketing innovations.”

Ticketmaster’s move into South Africa brings the company’s operations to 31 countries worldwide.


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Arte Viva Management sets out global intentions

Cape Town-headquartered Arte Viva Management (Arte Viva) is expanding globally with the launch of a new roster of primarily Southern African acts at this month’s International Live Music Conference (ILMC).

Founded in 2016, the booking, management and touring agency also has a European office in Amsterdam, the Netherlands and counts a collective 60 years of experience among its team, including tour production in territories such as Africa, Latin America and Europe.

Prior to Covid-19, the company focused on in-bound tours for international music clients and had already produced some 20 tours around South and Southern Africa for artists including Adrian Iaies (Argentina), Hildegard Lernt Fliegen (Switzerland), Coco Zhao (China) and Bokani Dyer (SA).

It was also commissioned to produce and manage the Carnegie Hall’s National Youth Jazz Orchestra tour to SA in 2020 with Grammy Award winner Dianne Reeves before its postponement due to the pandemic.

“Southern African music is widely appreciated and enjoyed across the world, and we believe there is significant opportunity to increase international touring”

“The world has been deeply impacted by the pandemic, but one thing that has not changed is the desire for and connection to music that moves the heart, the soul – and often, the feet,” says Arte Viva founder and MD Nikki Froneman. “Southern African music is widely appreciated and enjoyed across the world, and we believe there is significant opportunity to increase international touring. We are immensely proud of this new roster, and we are confident the time is right for expansion and introducing these artists to keen audiences in new territories.”

Arte Viva’s hand-picked roster predominantly features artists from Southern Africa, with genres spanning World-Fusion to SA Jazz, Afro- Soul & Folk, including The One Who Sings, Hope Masike, Abavuki, Sibusiso Mash Mashiloane, Mandla Mlangeni, Thandeka Dladla, The Lady Day Big Band, The Unity Band, Mthwakazi and China’s Coco Zhao – the one international performer selected by the Arte Viva team for his “exquisite singing and sensitively articulated fusion of Jazz with traditional Chinese music”.

ILMC 34 will take place in person from 26–29 April 2022 at its longstanding home, the Royal Garden Hotel in London

Arte Viva’s presence at the event is supported by the South African Department of Sports, Arts and Culture, through its Mzansi Golden Economy programme. Arte Viva has used the funding as an investment injection into the launch of the new roster and says it has the requisite experience in coordinating multiple stakeholders and partners to realise sustainable touring that works for all parties and opens the world stage for ongoing prospects.

 


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Omicron live music restrictions: World update

As the new Omicron variant of coronavirus takes hold, IQ has updated the latest restrictions affecting major international touring markets. This update complements our European list which can be read here

Below you’ll find the latest information on certification schemes, social distancing requirements, mask mandates, capacity restrictions and lockdowns affecting key live music markets around the globe.

Please note that we will aim to keep this article as up-to-date as possible but all information is subject to change. 

To submit an update to this, please get in touch. This article was last updated on Thursday 16 December.

To read about the Omicron restrictions affecting European markets, please click here


Abu Dhabi
As of 27 November, the operating capacity of indoor events has increased to 80%. Entry to indoor events requires attendees to show their green pass and a negative PCR test result received within 96 hours.

Attendees at indoor events must also undertake an EDE scan at public entry points and wear a mask.

Argentina
As of 16 November, mass events in outdoor spaces can take place at 100% capacity. Attendees over 18 years of age must provide proof of at least one dose of the vaccine, and wear a face mask during the event.

Australia
In New South Wales, face masks, proof of vaccination and Covid-19 Safe Check-in are not required. Retail and businesses are no longer required to have a Safety Plan.

In Victoria (and from 17 December, Queensland too) many leisure and entertainment facilities, such as live music venues, can only open for attendees and staff who are fully vaccinated or exempted. Capacity limits and social distancing will not apply.

South Australia is currently operating under Level 1 restrictions which means venues are limited to 75% capacity for seated events and 50% for standing events. Covid Management Plans required for events of more than 1,000 people. Masks are required for shared indoor public spaces.

Though Western Australia remains in a ‘state of emergency’, events and concerts are permitted to go ahead at full capacity. However, businesses must provide a Covid Safety Plan and maintain a contact register. Events with more than 500 patrons are required to complete a Covid Event Checklist or Plan.

For information on restrictions in Northern Territory click here, Tasmania here and Australia Capital Territory here.

Brazil
In November, the Brazilian government increased the capacity limit for music venues from 70% to 100% with proof of vaccination.

Canada
In Ontario, Canada’s capital city and its biggest live music market, new restrictions came into effect on Sunday 19 December.

Under the new rules, music venues and many other indoor public settings will be limited to 50% capacity. Event spaces are required to close by 23:00.

Canada’s live music restrictions vary from province to province.

See the latest guidelines for each of the regions here: AlbertaBritish Columbia, Manitoba, New BrunswickNewfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nova ScotiaNunavut, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Yukon.

Chile
Restrictions vary across the country but the majority of regions are on step 3 (preparation) or step 4 (initial opening) of the national five-step reopening plan.

During step 3, seated concerts in closed spaces (such as music venues) can take place at 50% capacity if all attendees show a Mobility Pass verifying full vaccination. If there is food consumption, it is reduced to 30% capacity.

Seated concerts in open spaces (such as open-air venues) can take place at 60% capacity with a Mobility Pass. If there is food consumption, it is reduced to 40% capacity.

In non-seated closed spaces, events can take place with up to 100 people (sans Mobility Pass) or 500 people (with Mobility Pass). In non-seated open spaces, events can take place with up to 200 (sans Mobility Pass) or 1,000 (with Mobility Pass).

Attendees at all non-seated venues must be able to maintain social distancing (1m without food consumption, 1.5m with).

Masks are required in all public spaces.

China

Life is largely back to normal but regional lockdowns have been imposed every time there are new outbreaks of the virus.

Dubai
Mask-wearing is compulsory, as is keeping a two-meter social distance, except in restaurants, cafes, offices, workplaces, gyms, shopping centres, beaches and public and entertainment parks, where a one-meter rule applies.

Outside, you must wear a mask unless exercising, eating or drinking, at a barbershop or salon, in a car with people from the same household, or if you’re alone.

Live entertainment and activities are permitted in restaurants, cafés and shopping malls. Events with free movement – such as standing concerts – are now allowed again, with a maximum of 5,000 people. Vaccination is required for these events.

Japan
At the beginning of November, the Japanese government eased its 10,000-capacity limit on mass gatherings such as concerts following a steady decline in coronavirus cases.

Events across the country can now admit 5,000 people, or 50% of capacity – whichever is larger – while large-scale spaces are permitted to welcome more than 10,000 spectators in Tokyo and other regions previously under a state or quasi-state of emergency. However, events that will involve fans shouting and cheering will be capped at 50% of capacity.

See more information on event restrictions here.

Mexico
Mexico is currently following a colour-coded system (red, orange, yellow, green) which is updated every two weeks.

Currently, all states are coded yellow (resuming limited activities but with precaution) or green (resuming normal activities but with precaution).

Concerts can only take place in green-coded states. See the colour codes for states here.

New Zealand
Since the beginning of this month, New Zealand has been operating with a traffic light system, under which each region has been assigned a colour (green, orange or red) based on vaccination rates and the spread of Covid-19 in the community.

A region’s colour determines the set of restrictions by which it has to abide.

In regions assigned ‘red’, venues using vaccine certificates are limited to 100 people with one-metre social distancing. In ‘orange’ regions, these venues face no limits on gatherings at events, retail, hospitality. Venues that don’t use vaccine certificates are not permitted indoor or outdoor events under red or orange.

Every region aside from Northland will move to orange at 23:59 NZST on 30 December.  These settings will stay in place until 17 January when the cabinet will review. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she expected many areas would move to green at that point.

South Africa
As of 1 October 2021, South Africa is operating under an adjusted Alert Level 1 which indicates a “low Covid-19 spread with a high health system readiness”.

Under Alert Level 1, leisure and entertainment facilities, whether indoors or outdoors, must close at 23:00. Nightclubs are closed to the public.

Face masks are mandatory for every person when in a public place and 1.5 metres social distancing must be maintained.

Entertainment facilities are limited to a maximum capacity of 750 people for indoor venues and 2,000 people or less for outdoor venues – with social distancing. Smaller venues are limited to 50% capacity.

South Korea
It was announced on 16 December that South Korea will reimpose curfews on businesses for an initial two weeks from Saturday 18 December.

Public places such as concert halls and cinemas will be permitted to operate until 22:00, while restaurants, cafes and other nightlife venues will have to close at 21:00.

The measures, announced on Thursday (16 December), come a month and a half after the government initiated a phased reopening plan. Amid record highs of Covid-19 infections, the cabinet has gradually rolled back the policy.

United States
Restrictions may vary from state to state – check the US government website for the latest guidance.

New York City
On 13 December, governor Kathy Hochul announced that masks will be required to be worn in all indoor public places unless businesses or venues implement a vaccine requirement. This measure is effective until 15 January 2022, after which the state will re-evaluate based on current conditions.

California
California is fully open for business with no capacity limits or physical distancing requirements.

For indoor events with 1,000 or more or outdoor events with 10,000 or more, attendees age 3 and older must provide proof that they are fully vaccinated or have received a negative Covid-19 test.

Unvaccinated persons are required to wear masks in all indoor public settings. It is recommended that fully vaccinated people also wear masks in these settings.

 


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SA supreme court rejects appeal over concert death

The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) of South Africa has rejected an appeal by one of the companies held responsible for a scaffolding tower collapse that killed one person at a Linkin Park show in South Africa in 2012.

In 2017, nearly five years after the death of 32-year-old Florentina Popa, Cape Town magistrate Ingrid Arntsen ruled that Vertex Scaffolding, Bothma Signs and Hirt & Carter – which constructed two large scaffolding towers at Cape Town Stadium and hung an advertisement for Lucozade between them – had been negligent and could be “causally linked” to Popa’s death, while Big Concerts, the promoter of the show, was found not to be responsible.

Popa died of blunt-force trauma after the tower fell on her in strong winds before Linkin Park show’s at the 58,309-seat stadium on 7 November 2012.

Arntsen said the companies should have foreseen that even moderate winds could have blown it over. “[W]inds with speeds of up to 15 metres per second were eminently foreseeable in Cape Town, and the towers could have been designed and constructed in such a way as to withstand the winds that were recorded on the day of the concert,” she said at the time.

“There is, in my view, no discernible material error of law … on which a review might be founded”

“It would appear, then, from all the evidence, that while the wind did come up and create problems, there was no real fear on the part of anyone in authority at the concert that the towers would blow over.”

Durban-based Hirt & Carter, which produces billboards and digital advertising, took the inquest’s findings to the Western Cape High Court, which dismissed the appeal, and then to the Supreme Court of appeal, which has upheld the high court’s ruling.

SCA judge Sulet Potterill, with four judges concurring, found that Arntsen “cannot be faulted for concluding that the death of the deceased was brought about by an act or omission that prima facie amounts to or involves an offence on the part of Hirt & Carter”, reports News24.

“It was premised on a finding of negligence on the part of Hirt & Carter. There is, in my view, no discernible material error of law by the magistrate of the kind on which a review might be founded. Indeed, I can find no error at all.”

Hirt & Carter’s appeal argued that the magistrate had erred when she found that it had omitted to supervise and manage the erection of the towers, which it said was the responsibility of a subcontractor (Bothma Signs).

In her judgment, Potterill disagreed, saying Arntsen “was correctly unpersuaded that the subcontracting of Bothma Signs and Vertex, against the facts of the case, could be relied on to exonerate Hirt & Carter.”

A further 19 people were injured in the accident, with 12 requiring hospitalisation.

 


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South Africa’s largest indoor venue closes

The 20,000-capacity Ticketpro Dome, South Africa’s largest indoor venue, is closing to events and will become a giant used car dealership after owner Sasol Pension Fund sold the building to WeBuyCars.

RX Venue Management, which operated the Johannesburg venue for 20 years, said the venue was unable to operate during the country’s Covid-19 lockdowns, adding that its permanent loss will hit the live industry at a critical time.

Carol Weaving, MD of RX Africa, said: “This is extremely disappointing and heartbreaking for our industry. The Ticketpro Dome has been home to many international concerts and events in South Africa, and this will undoubtedly leave a huge void.

“The constant changes and severity of the Covid-19 restrictions have wreaked havoc amongst our stakeholders and across the supply chain. This has meant we were unable to change the outcome of Sasol Pension Fund’s decision to sell the venue due to a force majeure. We want to thank all our customers, suppliers, and partners for their support over the past 20 years.”

“This is extremely disappointing and heartbreaking for our industry.”

Artists that performed at the Dome include Katy Perry, Pink, Lauren Hill, Lionel Richie, Celine Dion, Pharrell Williams, and Michael Bublé.

In a statement on Facebook, leading South African promoter Big Concerts said: “We are saddened by the news that the Dome will be closing their doors. Since 1998, we have promoted 186 shows at the Dome. To all our friends at the Ticketpro Dome, it’s been a pleasure working with you all, we will miss you terribly!”

The WeBuyCars showroom is expected to have room for 1,500 vehicles, making it one of the largest car showrooms in the world. Handover is expected on 7 September.

 


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Sara slams lack of regulation in South Africa

The South African Roadies Association (Sara) has hit out at the loose regulations governing live events production in South Africa, as it emerged no one has been held responsible for the death of a rigger over two years ago at the Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100.

Speaking to the Weekly SA Mirror of 4 June, Freddie Nyathela, president of Sara, describes the sector as a “free for all”, blaming the Department of Employment and Labour for dragging its feet on a proposed new framework for the technical events production and production services industry.

Lack of transformation in the industry is ultimately responsible for the death of Siyabonga Ngodze, the 36-year-old who suffered fatal injuries after falling in the set-up for the Mandela 100 event, which featured performances from Beyoncé, Jay-Z and Ed Sheeran.

Though Ngodze’s mother has received compensation from his employer, production company Gearhouse SA, and the Department of Employment and Labour (R39,000 [US$2,900] and R35,000 [$2,600], respectively), Thembekile Ngonze says she has yet to see justice for her “beloved son”.

“I cannot understand why it is taking so long to have someone prosecuted”

“I cannot understand why it is taking so long to have someone prosecuted for the death of my son”, says the 56-year-old.

According to the Weekly SA Mirror, progress in resolving the case has been delayed by successive lockdowns in South Africa. However, a Department of Employment and Labour investigation found that Gearhouse SA had failed to comply with the provisions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

In addition to the death of Ngodze, the Mandela 100 event, held to celebrate the 100th birthday of the late Nelson Mandela, was also marred by reports of widespread lootings and assaults, blamed by the venue, FNB Stadium, on the lack of police presence.

The concert raised billions of dollars for education, HIV prevention and anti-poverty initiatives in Africa.

 


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