OPEN LETTER: Dear festival organisers, you need to keep us safe after every concert

Guests pose in the audience during the Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 at FNB Stadium, Johannesburg
Guests pose in the audience during the Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 at FNB Stadium, Johannesburg

It was a long day at the FNB stadium in Johannesburg.

And that's not even including the trek through the traffic to get there.

We heard stories of how some festival goers arrived at 4am in the morning from other provinces to make sure they would miss the queues but wouldn't miss anything else.

We haven't felt this kind of gees I think since the World Cup in 2010.

Since the announcement in July, that Global Citizen Festival was going to be held in South Africa as a way to honour Nelson Mandela's centenary and a drive to end poverty in the world, the country had spent hours, days, weeks and months trying to take actions in order to win tickets.

Beyoncé was coming. Queen Bey. Mrs Carter. They beyhive went into a frenzy. 

READ MORE: The Global Citizen concert is just four days away and fans that haven't won tickets to see Beyoncé are not coping

We tweeted and retweeted, we pledged, we shared, we worked, we took actions and we entered the draw.

Finally the day came and while many didn't get the opportunity to attend, there were a lot of happy ticket holders.

It was fantastic. From Sho Madjozi to Pharrell, Cassper Nyovest to the Carters, everyone had a really good time. Congratulations to the teams who put the event together. It was a world class affair. Until it was time to head home.

Except for a few technical glitches including a sound failure that lasted a few seconds during Oprah's address, and a little too early flash of Dave Chappelle's intro everything went smoothly.

Speeches were rousing and some performances had a few audience members in tears of joy.

The info shared throughout the day made us feel hopeful that things are changing. And they are (billions have been raised), but not fast enough and certainly not right outside what quickly becomes gangsters' paradise after a big event like this.

To crime protection services, this is not a surprise. It's not a unique occurrence.

Attendees at the Guns 'n Roses concert that took place just recently experienced similar issues.

And the stories being shared about this particular gathering are heartbreaking, sickening and plain terrifying. I walked around the stadium, cellphone in my fist the entire time. I was scared of pickpocketers who would steal a moment of my unbridled joy and distraction to just dip into my bag, which became a third hip.

After some relief that we had enjoyed and survived the stadium experience, I got ready for the last hurdle - getting out and getting home safely.

READ MORE: PICS: The best looks from the Global Citizen Festival stage that showed off that Africa is more than the future

As soon as the vans started backing into the side of the stage and Beyoncé and JayZ sang Forever Young, I felt we had waited til the latest possible moment to leave. 

I of course wasn't the only one with the same idea and streams of people started heading out to an unlit and poorly signposted trek to Nasrec to catch public or arranged transport or to order their taxis.

Cellphone reception had been poor throughout the day and the Uber dropoff and pick up points seemed either deserted or a mess - I couldn't really tell in the dusty dark. I felt taking or waiting for one would be risky because they do tend to cancel trips after you've been waiting for them to get to you and they feel it's taking too long.

Luckily as invited media, we had a bus waiting for us, arranged by the PR company. Our bus driver did a stellar job of circumventing the traffic and we got back to Sandton Convention Centre safe and sound to head out to our various homes to dream about the weekend past.

A lot of people as we've heard weren't so lucky. I started searching the Global Citizen Festival hashtag as I got ready for work yesterday, bleary eyed and sleep deprived.

Here are some harrowing accounts and threads

And more are STILL being posted...

People, mostly women it appears, were attacked, stabbed, harassed and robbed of belongings including handbags and cellphones. 

There was police presence throughout the day and just outside the stadium in the parking area as we were leaving but none that I saw at Nasrec.

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

According to the News24 report, '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."'

The spokesperson for the event, Alison Bradley was to release a statement yesterday. 

"The safety of our guests is always of paramount importance to us and we understand and strongly empathise with their hurt and anger," Andrew Kirk, global director of PR for Global Citizen, said in a statement, also reported by News24.

Although this seems to be one of the worst incidents that have occurred after a concert of this size, it is not an isolated one.

But just today, Jacaranda News reports that "Police Minister Bheki Cele says the lack of security outside the FNB Stadium in Soweto on Sunday was not the police’s responsibility."

It's all left most of us speechless. But we shouldn't be surprised. Too many of us have either been harassed by the very same cops who are supposed to protect us or they simply have failed to do their duty.

So what do we do if we want to watch our favourite artists? Because we'd like to continue to support good causes and there's nothing wrong with having a little bit of fun while we do it? No one deserves to get hurt and traumatised for it.

What steps are being taken to make sure that this never happens again?

Who should we hold accountable? If police aren't going to protect us, who will?

Who can we trust to make sure that a safe environment is created for us to play in - from the time we arrive to the time we leave?

I know that next time the most unmissable lineup might not be enough to attract anyone to attend what could end up as a trap for innocent festival goers. Whether you have to earn your ticket or drop a tidy sum for one.

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