JMPD to probe Global Citizen Festival chaos‚ victims asked to come forward

The Global Citizen Festival at the FNB stadium in Soweto.
The Global Citizen Festival at the FNB stadium in Soweto.
Image: Jessica Levitt

The Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) has launched an internal investigation following allegations that the traffic management plan at the recent Global Citizen Festival was not adhered to.

"Our internal investigation has commenced as we need to establish what went wrong and learn valuable lessons. The city welcomes any substantiated reports that could assist with this investigation‚" said MMC for public safety Michael Sun.

The investigation comes after the Sunday Times reported at the weekend that the JMPD's failure to properly implement the traffic management plan – by‚ among other things‚ arriving nearly seven hours late to close roads around the FNB Stadium – was the catalyst for the chaos after the event.

"After 58 heads of state and celebrities were safely escorted from the concert‚ helpless festivalgoers stranded in gridlocked traffic faced brazen attacks by criminals who lurked like wolves with no police in sight‚" the newspaper reported.

"We want to express our deepest regrets to those affected and call on the victims to come forward so that investigations can commence. It is the safety of those we serve that is the most important‚” said Sun.

Hours after the Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 concert attendees took to Twitter to tell their horror stories‚ with some explaining how they were mugged at gunpoint outside the stadium‚ with no police in sight.

Sun said the JMPD would continue to engage with the SA police to follow up on any further reports and the progress of investigations into the attacks.

Metro police arrested seven suspects at the stadium on common robbery charges and the assault of a police officer‚ among other offences. The suspects appeared in court on Thursday last week.

The department said the SAPS have confirmed 50 reports of criminal incidents relating to the event.

Sun said his department was deeply saddened by the attacks on concertgoers.

"We will act to establish why it happened and take action against any wrongdoing‚" Sun said. Sun said he wanted to emphasise that the JMPD had adhered to the traffic management plan and that there was no evidence that JMPD or any of the city structures had strayed from the plan.

"I must make it clear that the JMPD‚ which was part of the venue operations centre (VOC) team‚ was responsible for traffic management in accordance with the approved master plan which was approved by the event safety and security planning committee (ESSPC). The VOC team comprised various stakeholders including the event organisers‚ EMS and law enforcement agencies lead by the police (SAPS) from both local and national levels."

He said that as per the operational plan‚ the majority of JMPD officers reported for duty from 6am on Sunday December 2 and remained on site until 7am the next day.

"JMPD officers were there from midnight on December 1 2018 to ensure that vehicles were not parked in restricted areas. Four officers and two vehicles were deployed from midnight. Additionally one JMPD breakdown vehicle was present.

"As the city’s government we must account to our residents and will not jump on the bandwagon of finger pointing to shift responsibility‚" Sun said.

He rejected "the blaming tactic being deployed by several key stakeholders to shift responsibilities as it is neither progressive in rectifying the problem nor giving our residents any comfort in knowing that the next major event will be a safe one".

Sun said the public safety department would work with the role players to ensure that Johannesburg remains a top and safe destination for major events.

- TMG Digital.

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