Rowdies ruin Fantasia

2009-12-18 00:00

FANTASIA, just about the only wholesome Christmas entertainment for families in the city, disintegrated into a party for drunken revellers at a nearby concert who trashed Alexandra Park.

Yesterday morning the park was carpeted in litter and beer bottles, while local police dealt with reports of unruly behaviour and at least four accidents.

In one accident, an out-of-control minibus taxi mowed down six people in the park in the early hours of the morning.

Jeff Wicks of Netcare 911 said a large group of revellers travelling by taxi congregated in the park. “What prompted the dri­ver of one of the vehicles to speed about is unknown. He lost control of the vehicle and struck six party-goers,” said Wicks.

Police spokeswoman Inpector Joey Jeevan confirmed three other accidents in the vicinity and said no serious injuries were reported.

She added that while the police did not receive complaints about the actual concert, three cases of public disturbance were opened at Alexandra Road police station.

Some concert-goers said drunken people got into fights, with one group chasing others with butcher’s knives after an argument.

Early morning joggers in the park were shocked at the amount of rubbish lying around. By 10 am it seemed as if just about every member of the city’s cleaning staff had been deployed to collect litter. Although work had started early in the morning, they seemed to have hardly made a dent in the piles of rubbish.

By 11 am an observer said he was convinced that, up to that point, over a thousand bags of litter and beer and liquor bottles had been collected.

Director of Msunduzi parks and recreation division, Steven Naick, told The Witness that virtually every Monday morning they have to clear beer bottles from the open field adjacent to where Fantasia is held.

There are bins in the park, but those who drink there on Saturdays and Sundays disregard the bins, said Naick.

Angry parents who were at Fantasia on Wednesday night cannot believe what one parent described as the “stupidity” of the municipality holding a battle-of- the-bands contest right next to Fantasia.

“Concerts can be held all year round. We struggle to find places to keep our kids entertained during the festive season. Fantasia was the one place we looked forward to visiting, but after last night’s experience, never again,” said a parent.

Members of the public said concert-goers arrived with cooler boxes filled with drinks and their food. They were not allowed to take these into the Fantasia area, so they picnicked in the surrounding area, including the rockery, the kerb along Princess Margaret Drive, and even the traffic island alongside Fantasia.

This caused a huge traffic jam and people who wan­ted to leave struggled to get out.

A stallholder said that after a while, the concert revellers came into Fantasia, wandering around with glasses and beer bottles in their hands. Stallholders said they were too scared to leave as they were worried their stalls would be trashed.

The concert apparently went on until midnight, but revellers continued partying in the park until well after 2 am.

A parent said the noise levels from the concert were deafening and they were forced to leave because it became too much for their children.

“I could not believe that while all this was going on, including drinking in a public place, I did not see one member of the SAPS or … patrol … The police should have stopped this mayhem” said a stallholder.

Stallholders who spoke to The Witness said they had a meeting with Naick and told him that what happened on Wednesday should not be allowed to happen again.

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