Fear, or very dangerous factor?

Tori Foxcroft

Cape Town - The opening episode of Fear Factor SA, which saw contestants being dragged behind a 4X4 in a dune drag, has outraged News24 users.

The stunt was suspended after one contestant had to be hospitalised after being concussed and badly bruised. According to the Star, Lebo Babe lost half the hair on her head and was mildly concussed.

In several letters to the editor, News24 users claimed that it wasn't "Fear Factor", but rather "Danger Factor", and added that the producers of the show needed to implement necessary safety measures.

It was also of huge concern to what lengths South Africans would go for money.

Another point raised was the way in which the local version compared with the American Fear Factor.

Rhona Pool, e.tv's head of publicity, however, didn't understand what the big deal was.

"I'm amazed at the outrage", she told News24 on Tuesday afternoon.

"Everyone knows that the programme is about fear, and when the same stunt was performed on an international Fear Factor show, no one complained," she added.

When asked whether she was satisfied with the show's safety measures, Pool said that "she is more than satisfied", and that "every safety precaution had been taken".

Besides, "the woman in question wasn't scalped, she was grazed, and suffered a bruise to the left side of her head", she said.

She also added that "all contestants had been equipped with protective clothing which included a slide board - high density rubber mat/board - strapped to the front of their bodies and padding on the elbows, forearms and knees.

"The decision was taken not to use helmets as this had the potential to unbalance the contestant during the stunt and make them more vulnerable to neck injuries."

Although Babe spent a week in hospital and took two week's sick leave, she didn't appear to have any gripes with e.tv. She'd wanted to continue but producers decided to heed medical advice and sent her packing.

Pool added e.tv had no intention of taking Fear Factor off the air.

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