Crime shuts down the music as Oppikoppi is cancelled for 2019
The 25th Oppikoppi music festival in the mining district of Northam, Limpopo, will not take place this year - after the 2018 event was ruined by criminals targeting attendees.
The 2019 event would have taken place between August 8 and 10, but the organisers have decided that the cost of the necessary security would make ticket prices too high.
They hope to bring the event back next year after reviewing their options.
"This was a very big decision for us," said Theresho Selesho, CEO of Matchbox Live, owners of the festival, said in a statement on Thursday.
"For 24 years, Oppikoppi has been going great guns. Unfortunately in 2018 we experienced the rampant crime currently impacting events and festivals across South Africa.
"For us to present the 2019 event with the increased security measures that are required to curb this crime, to present a safe and enjoyable festival, the production costs also increase drastically.
"By taking a gap year, we are giving ourselves the breathing room to redesign the festival and bring in the necessary changes without impacting the festival-goer by increasing ticket prices."
Selesho said in doing this, the organisers are investigating bringing the festival to a venue closer to a major city to enable day tickets. "All options are open. Nothing is out of question," he said.
On the event's Facebook page, music lovers have shared their safety concerns. Here is a snapshot from recent months:
- "I had a great time last year but the theft was out of control, which is making me sceptical of ever going again." - March 24
- "Too much theft going on. I can't fully relax knowing I have to be alert at all times. Looks like the best of 'Koppi is in the past with these tsotsis flocking after all the big festivals." - January 14
- "It's a thief paradise, guys. Used to be well managed, now they steal everything. Won't recommend it to anyone with anything of value. They steal everything, from food and cooking equipment to smashing windows, taking everything in your car." - November 2018
- "Violent assault Oppikoppi ... What can I say, good times and bad ones. I've been going to the festival since 2011 ... Sure, the petty theft has gotten bad ... Tents [are] being slashed into ... But I draw the line when my brother was assaulted by five guys, had his ankle deliberately broken by them and [was] left knocked out in the bush, minus a camera. Thanks to this, he now has to have surgery and two metal plates inserted into his ankle." - August 2018