- Blame security personnel for inciting the violence
- Say the chaos was not caused by Zodwa’s absence
- BEPA and MYSC condemn the incident
- Makhadzi asks promoters to communicate her performance times
Fans of South African stars, Makhadzi and Zodwa Wa Bantu, had been looking forward to last Friday when the artists would perform at the Obed Itani Chilume Stadium in Francistown for the first time, with news of socialite Zodwa Wa Bantu’s expected Botswana appearance trending on social media for weeks prior to the event.
But the fans were met with an anti-climax when news broke that Zodwa had tested positive for COVID-19 and would not be coming. “Zodwa was happy and looking forward to performing in Botswana,” the promoter of the Makhadzi Live Show, Gilbert “PP” Seagile of Gilbert Promotions, said in an interview. “We haven’t really talked about whether to stage a makeup show in Francistown or get a refund.”
As if that was not enough, a chaotic scrimmage broke out between security personnel and the crowd while the King of Kwaito-Kwasa, Vee Mampeezy, was on stage. A solid mass of the crowd surged towards the stage, throwing stones and bottles and crushing one another as the barricades collapsed. In the aftermath, some blamed Zodwa’s absence and weak security for the mess.
Said PP: “The problem was not Zodwa’s absence because we released a statement and people understood the situation. The problem started when Vee started performing. Knowing that Makhadzi would soon follow, they got excited as they usually do. People pushed the barricades and Security Systems responded with force, prompting people to fight back. This happened for 20 minutes and the show continued thereafter.”
Recalling the chaotic scene that he saw from the stage as he performed his hit song “Baba,” Vee Mampeezy said he stopped when the crowd brought down the barricades. “ I think security panicked and there was chaos,” Vee said. “They tried to contain the crowd using more force and I’ve heard there was tear gas, but people fought back in self-defence and the security personnel took to their heels.”
“I had to brave the dangerous scene of flying bottles and stones with my personal security to contain the situation. Makhadzi was very cooperative. As soon I came down, people helped to restore order and get the show going again and Makhadzi was able to perform. We are grateful that no one was seriously hurt or lost their life.”
For her part, Makhadzi posted on her Facebook page: “I heard you thought I was not coming any more and started to throw bottles onto the stage. To all promoters kindly update our fans about my performance time so that they don’t become impatient.”
The Botswana Entertainment Promoters Association (BEPA) condemned the incident, saying it has the potential to discourage promoters from hosting international artists in Francistown and Ghetto-based artists and businesses losing out on opportunities.
“The scenes, which were widely shared across different social media platforms, are uncouth and damaging to the second city and industry,” said the Secretary General of BEPA, David Abram, in a statement.
The Ministry of Youth (MYSC) also released a statement condemning the behaviour of revellers, noting that there was no compliance with set health protocols in the face of COVID-19. “This is even more worrying, especially with the discovery of the new B.1.1.529 rapidly transmissible COVID-19 variant,” the statement said.