OppiKoppi 2019 halted due to rampant crime

Posted by Christi Nortier on 11 April 2019

The 2019 OppiKoppi music festival has been postponed to next year because of the recent trend of rampant crime at festivals and events in the country. The organisers are working to redesign the festival to make it more secure for 2020.

OppiKoppi is one the of biggest multiple-day festivals held in South Africa. More than 20,000 music lovers camp at the venue near Northam in Limpopo each year to watch over 160 sets play over a few days.

The festival began in 1994 on the farm with a few-hundred people listening to Valiant Swart and Koos Kombuis, among others. This year would have been the 25th edition of the festival.

The festival organisers have said that to increase security, they will also have to increase their production costs. They explain that they need the year off to restructure the festival so that the extra cost is absorbed and the ticket price doesn’t have to increase.

‘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.’

Their decision was not made lightly. ‘We realise that a festival like OppiKoppi has a significant role to play in the South African music scene, along with a critical social cohesion role that it has been playing for many years. We are 100% up for it BUT we want to do it right,’ says Theresho Selesho, the CEO of Matchbox LIVE, which owns the festival.

‘Globally, live music festivals are constantly evolving, and even more so in South Africa. We are very proud of the moves we have made and the direction of the festival, but we feel like we needed to take a step back and start with a completely clean slate.

It is an opportunity for us to take a look at what our tribe of fun-loving fans want, where they want it, and for how long,’ says Selesho.

The organisers are reconsidering every detail, even the possibility of moving the festival closer to a major city to make transport easier and offer day tickets.

They have asked the festival’s fans to send them suggestions on venues, bands, genres, stages and catering that could be included in the 2020 edition.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BwEo0CeB4Ps/

After last year’s festival, OppiKoppi posted on its Facebook page that in 2010 crime was identified as one of the biggest threats to the existence of the festival.

The post continued to explain how they cracked down on a pickpocket syndicate in 2018 and that ‘OppiKoppi refuses to bow down to crime’.

Selesho told News24 last year that the festival had experienced its worst bout of crime in 2018. ‘There are a few syndicates that have been targeting live events and festivals. These past few years have been crazy for us in terms of containing the criminal activity, especially at a tented camping event [such as OppiKoppi].

‘We’ve put safety measures in place, we’ve been working with the SAPS, we had undercover security guards and canines to try to combat these crimes,’ he said.

He explained that it was difficult to police thousands of people camping in the open veld. No violent crimes have been reported.

The festival was scheduled for 8, 9 and 10 August 2019, and tickets went on sale in November 2018. OppiKoppi has automatically refunded all of those who bought tickets using a credit card while those who paid with an EFT have to request a refund via email.

Feature Image: OppiKoppi / Facebook.






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