Getting down with the matrics

2012-12-09 10:00

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Post-school holidays have become big, drunken business, writes Sphumelele Mngoma

If your teenager tells you they are going on holiday with their matric friends for a good “jol”, believe them.

During the Matric Rage Festival, which goes on for a week, it’s all about little sleep, showing off a whole lot of flesh, snogging in public and boozing from sunset to sunrise.

The matrics on this year’s Rage say it’s a rite of passage after 12 years behind a school desk.

Tracey Matjiu (18) from Joburg says: “Let me help you out. The routine is simple. You wake up, drink, party and repeat.”

Her mother’s gave her permission to attend because she is “responsible”.

She says: “Sure there are a lot of one-night stands, but my friends and I choose to be celibate. You can have fun without sex.”

What began as a group of matrics from Cape Town getting together in Plettenberg Bay has snowballed into a movement that generates an estimated R14 million a year.

Greg Walsh, the managing director of Rage organisers GnG Productions, says: “A group of matriculants would go to Plett to celebrate finishing school. There was never anything centralised or planned. They would just book accommodation with friends and then hit the bars and night clubs.

“That journey ended with us throwing Rage events in Plett around 2000. In 2004, we moved to KwaZulu-Natal and it grew.”

Today, matrics from KwaZulu-Natal party in Ballito (about 40km north of Durban), those from Gauteng go to Umhlanga, and those from Eastern Cape and Western Cape go to Plettenberg Bay.

Last year, roughly 125 000 matrics attended Rage. Figures for this year have not yet been confirmed.

They buy a “Rage passport”: R650 for a regular pass and R1 500 for VIP entry. This covers entertainment and transport; but excludes accommodation, food or alcohol, for which their parents fork out extra.

Many of them end up staying in high-end holiday resorts in elite coastal neighbourhoods, for which many use their parents’ time-sharing points.

Most of those City Press spoke to had their parents dishing out the dosh for food and booze.

City Press joined the Gauteng matrics at Tiger Tiger night club in Durban, where Mi Casa ­performed.

They began arriving in minibuses from 8pm. By 10pm, many were still outside, wanting to finish off their own alcohol before entering the club.

We saw a petite girl cradling bottles of alcopops to her chest, so inebriated she was unable to get out of the minibus without her friends’ help.

All were keen to talk.

One, who wanted to be named by his Twitter handle @LazolaMalgas, said: “Please make us famous and put us in the paper.”

He said he “definitely witnessed a whole lot of sex and drug use like ecstasy” during Rage week. His friend, @Yougottalovekaz, said she gets free alcohol because of her beautiful body.

“I’m here to be with friends and get drunk. I have never smoked so much weed in my life. I got here yesterday and I have been f****d ever since.”

Glass in hand, Franco Basson (18), who asked City Press to dance, admitted to blowing R3 000 in five days.

“I already have had to ask my parents for more money twice,” he said proudly.

Another, Blake Vosloo, said he had already lost his cellphone. But he said he was rich and his parents paid his way to Durban.

“I will be studying law next year so I’m a good investment. My mom knows I will pay her back,” said the teen, who had already spent R1 500 on booze.

Nadia Steyn (18) said she witnessed two of her peers making out in an ambulance.

“Tonight that will be us. We will be dying because we’ll be so drunk and needing an ambulance,” she said while dancing.

Intoxicated as many were, these youngsters didn’t forget the manners they learned at school.

A group of boys greeted the City Press team as “sir” and “ma’am”. They became really excited when they heard we were journalists and quickly offered a suspicious-looking two-litre coke bottle to photographer Khaya Ngwenya.

A girl who identified herself as Lerato said her parents knew she was on holiday with friends but did not know the full extent of what goes on during Rage week.

Earlier, two very sober girls from Pretoria revealed some details about what their friends were up to. “I won’t even lie to you, drugs are max,” said Katherine Pelser, who said the prevailing motto was “vac is vac – there are no limits”.

Police spokesperson, Captain Thulani Zwane, said there had been no reported incidents of unruly behaviour, and that they had undercover officers working on different festive season operations, including at Rage.

- City Press

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