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KwaZulu-Natal - The two-week matric party under way in uMhlanga, Ballito and Margate started well at the weekend with no serious public disturbances.
Instead, police said the school-leavers, some of whom had travelled from Cape Town and Joburg for the Matric Rage festival, were behaving.
There were about 6 000 teens in uMhlanga, who danced (and drank) at nightclubs into the early hours of Sunday, when The Mercury went along to see what Rage was about.
The school-leavers revelled in their newfound freedom, indulging in alcohol, cigarettes and each other, free from the ever-watchful eyes of their parents and their teachers.
One young woman was taken to hospital after being involved in a serious car accident in the Ballito area, Netcare 911 spokesman Chris Botha said.
The Christian organisation Red Frogs sent about 150 volunteers to take care of the youngsters – especially those who were drinking alcohol.
When revellers came across the volunteers, they shouted out their appreciation.
“You are our heroes. Thanks for taking care of us. Where are the pancakes you promised us?” shouted one group of ebullient youths.
Red Frogs spokesman Paul Rowney said the volunteers helped the school-leavers get home, or to their hotels, by organising taxis or escorting them on foot. For the duration of Rage, Red Frogs would be running a call centre and would step in whenever someone needed help, Rowney said.
“If someone has been taken by a taxi home, we call an hour later to check they arrived safely,” Rowney said.
In some cases, parents called to enquire about their children’s safety.
Rowney said the volunteers made pancakes on Sunday to ensure the enthusiastic young party-goers, who had danced the night away, had eaten.
Rowney said the festival was mostly frequented by young people from affluent private and public schools.
“Attending this festival is very expensive, and only pupils whose parents can afford it would come here,” he said.
Those who were from outside Durban paid up to R1 500 a night for a hotel bed, and R650 for a passport ticket for local nightclubs.
A visitor from Joburg, Mzo Ramaphosa, who said he was businessman and ANC politician Cyril Ramaphosa’s son, said he had been looking forward to the party for years.
“This festival is known to be the best place for matrics to celebrate completing 12 years of hard work in school.”
Although she was still in Grade 11 at Pietermaritzburg’s Wykeham Collegiate, Rachael Wahle, 17, said she wouldn't have missed it for the world. - The Mercury