Concert-goers at the Global Citizen Festival at FNB Stadium. Picture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - The Johannesburg Police Department arrested seven suspects at the Global Citizen Festival for, amongst others, common robbery and assault of a police officer, the City of Johannesburg said on Monday.

The much-anticipated show to honour Nelson Mandela, who died in 2013 and would have turned 100 this year, lived up to expectations with a stellar line-up including the headline act of American superstars Beyonce and Jay-Z. 

But after the show, festival-goers have told of brazen robberies, traffic chaos and lack of public transport outside the concert venue and at the nearby Sasol garage in Nasrec where the stadium is located. Transport services such as the Gautrain said many of its buses were stuck in traffic while fares for e-hailing service Uber more than quadrupled. 

On social media, people detailed how the precinct became a "war zone" as running battles ensued between criminals and showgoers, with many being mugged of their cellphones and other belongings while young women waiting for their rides home at a nearby garage were harassed and nearly raped, with allegedly no security or police in sight.

There were reports of a group of about 30 men using knives and guns to attack people and grab their belongings. The injuries included stab wounds and a broken nose.

Johannesburg Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) for Public Safety, Cllr. Michael Sun said: “We are shocked to learn of the several reports of mugging and attacks on both social media and other media platforms, we are engaging the South African Police Services to establish what had transpired as they were responsible for the overall policing at the Global Citizen Festival. 

"We have learned that only one incident was formally reported which goes in stark contrast to the many reports surfacing all over media. I have received confirmation that JMPD had arrested seven suspects at the Global Citizen Festival for amongst others, common robbery and assault of a police officer. 

"We want to express our deepest regrets to those affected and call on the victims to come forward and report any incidence to the SAPS so an investigation can be undertaken”.

The City said: "As part of the Venue Operation Centre (VOC) team, the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department was responsible for traffic management and deployed 236 metro police officers/ traffic wardens, 104 JMPD patrol vehicles, 18 JMPD motorbikes and 11 horses to ensure traffic free flow from 6:00 am on 2 December to 7:00 am on 3 December. Emergency Management Services (EMS) were also on standby to deal with any possible incidences.

"The VOC team comprises of various stakeholders which include the event organisers, EMS, law enforcement agencies, health and transport departments from both local and provincial levels.

The overall planning and command for the event was under the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (Nat JOINTS) under the command of the South African Police Service (SAPS) which included the Presidential Protection Service (PPS) as the lead security role-players in light of various Heads of State/ Government attending.

"Events Safety and Security Planning Committee had established a “safe zone” where concert-goers can be picked up by E-hail taxis but it is suspected that the e-hail taxi operators may have requested some of their passengers to walk to the near-by Sasol garage to be picked up which was outside the safe zone."

Sun said, “We will be working closely with SAPS to assist with the investigation and we also need to understand the cause of the problem so we can avoid this kind of incidences from reoccurring in future”.

Meanwhile, Gauteng Premier David Makhura said on Monday has sought a full report from law-enforcement authorities. 

"Crime is an enemy of our people and should be fought with vigour and military precision. Criminals have become too emboldened. Citizens are really under attack. We need a popular front to combat crime in our beautiful province," Makhura said in a statement. 

Makhura said he has sought a detailed report from South African Police Services (SAPS) and Johannesburg Metro Police (JMPD), saying that police visibility post the festival was undeniably one of the key areas of concern as expressed by a number of people.

"Public places or areas of leisure should never be a golden den for criminals. People should always feel safe and protected in such places. Our law enforcement agencies, especially the police, are expected to play their role and responsibility," he said.

South African police spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo dismissed allegations of lax safety and security outside the FNB Stadium after the festival, saying that it was successful in combating crime and that those who allegedly fell victim to robberies should open criminal cases. 

Speaking to the public broadcaster SABC from Port Elizabeth, Naidoo said that police had recorded one incident of mugging after the concert, and that the police will not be seeking CCTV footage from the petrol station as there have been no criminal cases reported except for one.

"There was one robbery that took place at Sasol garage which was reported to us and we arrested the suspect with regards to that. We do not have a report of any other cases. The fact that we arrested a suspect immediately after the robbery took place highlights the presence of police at Sasol garage," Naidoo said.

Police minister Bheki Cele reiterated Naidoo's comments that there was no reported violence outside the stadium and that those who fell victims should lay charges with the police. 

Stadium Management chief executive, Jacques Grobbelaar, also expressed regret at the reported incidents of violence and crime affecting festival-goers but said that his company had no authority over the safety and security of music revellers who had come to see their favourite local and international artists.

"Because of this event being of national importance, it was taken over by National Joints Operations of SAPS. We as stadium management were not involved in the safety and security of the event as we would normally have been as we did with the Guns N' Roses concert last week Thursday," Grobbelaar said.

"For the Global Citizen Festival, the stadium provided the venue, we provided logistical services and provided certain cleaning, as well as medical services. The police and JMPD were responsible for the  bylaws in the precinct and overall safety and security of the event." 

African News Agency and IOL