Whatever happened to Africa’s biggest festival? Print
News - Aktueel
Monday, 27 October 2014 23:23
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Cullinan business owners suffered grave losses with the cancellation of the Tribe One Festival. The festival was postponed by organisers, Rockstar 4000 and Sony Music Entertainment Africa, just one week before it was due to start, leaving the hosts, Tshwane Metro Municipality, R65-million in the red.
Around 150 international and local artists and DJs were meant to entertain revellers across three stages from 26 to 28 September just outside Cullinan. Over 100 000 people were expected to attend the three-day event.

According to the municipality it had spent just more than R40 million on infrastructure and another R25 million on securing the performance of artists. A non-refundable fee of R10 million was paid to international artist, Nicki Minaj, while many local artists reported that they were partly paid or not paid at all.

Apparently a major reason for delay in infrastructure development was a late discovery that the terrain did not solely belong to the municipality.

Jandré Louw, director of Rockstar 4000 and The Management Company JV (Sony JV), said in court documents that they heard in February from the Cullinan Diamond Mine that 40% of the terrain belonged to the Petra Diamonds Group Company.

The launch of the Tribe One Festival was held on the terrain in November last year

The organisers claimed that the municipality did not get the infrastructure ready on time, but the municipality denied the claims and even headed to the North Gauteng High Court to fight the cancellation of what would have been the largest music festival on the continent.

The respondents in the court case were Sony Music Entertainment, Rockstar 4000 Entertainment and The Management Company JV. The court application was scrapped from the roll by Judge Eben Jordaan, who said that it wasn’t urgent.

According to the organisers the show was cancelled due to security and safety concerns. They released a statement claiming that: “Site preparation and related infrastructure development required to host the festival, being the responsibility of the municipality, fell behind schedule to a material extent, such that it was no longer realistically possible to stage and deliver the festival to the scale and quality that the organisers had always planned.”

Jandré said that on 13 September the terrain was nowhere near ready for the lay-out of technical equipment, stages, lighting and sound.

Mayor Kgosientsho Ramokgopa said that he was confused by the organisers’ statement that infrastructural requirements had not been adequate to host an event of such magnitude. The mayor and city officials took the media on a site tour to show that the infrastructure was complete and ready for the festival to go ahead.

According to court documents, there had been no clear specifications of infrastructure requirements from The Management Company JV (Sony JV) in June. In July the municipality said that the company reported that the Cullinan diamond mine would help with most of the infrastructure development. The only things needed from the municipality were water and electricity.

The municipality released a media statement, saying that the city suggested ways to salvage the staging of the festival to the organisers. “Our suggestions were, however, rebuffed by the event organisers and our efforts were unsuccessful.”

Anonymous sources stated that they offered their venues, where full services were available, to the organisers, but were also turned down.

According to the municipality’s media statement, the city “has also learnt through various sources that the event organisers have apparently failed to meet some of their financial obligations to the suppliers they had procured to assist with the staging of the event.”

Water trucks at the festival terrain in mid September. Cullinan residents claim that the trucks collected water at taps in the town’s residential area, resulting in higher municipal accounts for residents
Photo: Theana Breugem

The festival has been criticised in social media for being too over optimistic, with ticket prices initially being very expensive, and then suddenly being offered at two for the price of one.

The organisers promised to refund the 4 000 tickets that had already been sold. However, the event posters advertised that there would be 100 000 people attending. One wonders what happened to the other 96 000 revellers?

Towards the end of September Mayor Ramokgopa announced that the festival was going to continue later this year and become an annual fixture.

However, according to Derrick Kaufmann, spokesperson for the festival organisers, the festival wouldn’t happen for at least three years because the agreement between the organisers and the municipality was cancelled.