Ballito Rage cancelled after 36 positive Covid-19 cases found among guests, staff

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Attendees of Ballito Rage in 2014. (Photo by Gallo Images / The Times / Moeletsi Mabe)
Attendees of Ballito Rage in 2014. (Photo by Gallo Images / The Times / Moeletsi Mabe)
  • Organisers conducted more than a thousand Covid-19 tests.
  • On-site testing at the event identified the positive cases of Covid-19.
  • The event had a vaccine mandate and included testing before entry.

The Ballito Rage festival has been cancelled after 36 people tested positive for Covid-19.

The festival opened on Tuesday with several Covid-19 protocols in place. However, after testing more than 1 000 people, 32 cases were identified in guests and four in staff members.

Organisers had initially vowed to go ahead with the event, even after President Cyril Ramaphosa called on South Africans to avoid large gatherings, before cancelling on Wednesday.

The festival was planned to include what organisers said were "unprecedented Covid-19 protocols in place". This included mandatory vaccinations for all staff and guests and pre-arrival Covid-19 tests for all guests.

At a testing facility near the event site, where staff testing commenced on Monday, 122 staff were tested with no positive Covid-19 cases recorded. On Tuesday, all remaining staff and all guests underwent Covid-19 tests at the testing centre.

Event organisers said in a statement:

Between 14:00 and 22:00, 940 guests and staff were tested and 32 guests and four staff presented positive results. The Department of Health were on-site and worked together with our team to conduct contact tracing and ensure isolation of positive individuals and staff as per government protocols.

On Wednesday morning, the organisers took the decision, along with various stakeholders, to cancel the event.

"It is our responsibility to do the right thing, based on facts, collaboration and the resources and tools we have available," the statement said.

"Whilst we understand the disappointment that this causes for those who were looking forward to enjoying the festival, these are unprecedented times. We appreciate everyone's understanding and support. Ticket holders will receive further information in the coming days via email."

Last year's festival turned into a super-spreader event and saw a number of Covid-19 infections among staff and attendees. More than 840 people at the event tested positive for Covid-19, News24 previously reported.

Meanwhile KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala has added his voice to calls for youth to avoid large gatherings, such as the Rage Festival. The “stern warning” by the Premier comes amid reports that some events, which became Covid-19 super spreaders last year, have commenced in the province “despite the new upsurge in Covid-19 cases and the lurking danger of the Omicron variant.

“Reports are indicating that with the end of year and the end of school for learners especially matrics have started to converge in KwaZulu-Natal for events,” said Zikalala.

“[At] most of these gatherings young people gather in large groups, others indulge in alcohol binges and other malevolent activities. We want to reiterate that these are super spreader activities which endanger the lives of young people.”

Zikalala said youth infected with Covid-19 at these events could then expose their families to the virus and new variant.

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