'Horrifying' gang attacks, stabbings and robberies ruin Global Citizen event

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People leaving the Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 event were attacked by gangs of juveniles and stabbed and robbed of cellphones and handbags, according to countless social media posts.

According to witnesses, the attacks happened in the vicinity of the Sasol garage situated close to the FNB Stadium in Soweto, in the early hours of Monday morning.

Catherine Constantinides, director of Miss Earth SA, tweeted that the experience was "horrifying".

"There was NO SAPS present. Nothing. The screaming of girls and people everywhere still rings in my head. People running away holding bricks because they feared for their safety. They knifed people, burning people. It was horrifying," Constantinides tweeted.

"I'm deeply pained by the trauma [and] reality of what we went through last night. It was more than mugging [and] taking phones. You prayed with your life not to be stabbed / punched or brutally attacked, all of which I witnessed."

Morning Live host Leanne Manas tweeted: "@JoburgMPD where were you last night AFTER the #GlobalCitizenFestivalSA when people were being mugged & harassed by thugs?? You were everywhere BEFORE the show to ensure no one without access got in - but AFTER??"

Global stars such as Ed Sheeran, Eddie Vedder, Beyoncé and Jay-Z performed at the event, hosted by Mandela 100 and the Motsepe Foundation.

'It was shocking'

Vanessa Perumal, music publicist and managing director at JT Communication Solutions, told News24 she had attended countless concerts as part of her work and had never experienced anything like this before.

"I can’t tell you how shocking it was," Perumal said. "We were walking with thousands of people past the buses towards the Sasol garage to get an Uber. Then we heard people screaming. It was the weirdest thing possible. Youngsters, boys, were running towards us and stealing phones and pulling bags off people. It was chaos, it was so unreal. How was this even possible?"

Perumal said the attacks were bold and random, with the robbers grabbing people’s belongings and then running away.

"Nobody could help anybody. Lots of people around us were getting robbed. You think I’m talking nonsense…"

According to Perumal, some of the attacks were violent.

"We found two cops only when we were getting towards the highway," she said.

Perumal said the programme organisers should be held accountable for the lack of security measures, saying that it compared poorly to previous events held at FNB stadium such as the Guns 'N Roses concert on Thursday.

'Worst night of my life'

Another attendee, Imaan Moosa, gave a lengthy account of her experience on Twitter, stating that it "was both the best and worst night of my life".

"We couldn’t go anywhere because men were stealing and harassing people all around us. We were corralled in. We decided to stay amongst the obviously scared and startled crowd. Strength in numbers. Then a gun shot went off and people started running," Moosa wrote.

"I've never been so scared. While people were running trying to SAVE themselves, men were coming in close and trying to STILL steal a bag or phone. No one and nowhere was safe.

"More gunshots went off. Someone started tasering people. The police did NOTHING. No one could leave because the cars were backlogged and Ubers were unavailable."

Another tweet by @MrHavok011 read: "Groups of tsotsi’s run towards the crowds to cause commotion and then grab people’s shit and taunt them. Everyone so scared and them literally laughing and enjoying the chaos."

According to Perumal, the attacks appeared to have been well planned and orchestrated. "People were getting robbed left, right and centre. It was a new level of criminal activity."

Spokesperson for the event, Alison Bradley, told News24 a statement would be issued on Monday.

Global Citizen tweeted: "After such an inspiring evening, we are saddened to hear the challenges people had while leaving the venue. We have been working to support people getting home safely."

National SAPS spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo said: "We are only aware of one robbery, for which one suspect has been arrested. We have not had other cases reported to us yet." 

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