Police and organisers of the annual matric Rage Festival have confirmed that an 18-year-old partygoer was allegedly raped at a premier Umhlanga‚ Durban‚ hotel on Monday.
TimesLIVE can exclusively reveal that the girl reported being sexual assaulted‚ apparently at the Umhlanga Sands Hotel. The beachfront hotel has been block booked for the festival attendees.
However‚ police had‚ by the time of publishing‚ not yet charged the suspect.
The incident has marred the week-long Rage Festival‚ as thousands of teen revellers have flocked to the coast to let their hair down after final exams.
Police spokesman Colonel Thulani Zwane confirmed that detectives were dealing with a rape investigation.
“An incident took place on Monday at a hotel in Umhlanga where an 18-year-old woman was allegedly raped by a known suspect. The suspect was arrested and will appear in court soon‚” he said.
Zwane said that the man had been detained but had not yet been formally charged. It was unclear exactly when he would be charged.
Parents have forked out thousands of rand for their children to let their hair down at the festival‚ with packages priced from R800 to R4‚500 for a black VVIP ticket. The sold-out Black passport‚ which was limited to 750‚ gives guests the ultimate‚ exclusive VVIP Rage Festival experience with private lounges with bars and welcome drinks.
Priya Naidoo‚ spokeswoman for Tsogo Sun‚ which owns Umhlanga Sands‚ confirmed “an alleged incident” in one of their hotel rooms.
“Tsogo Sun condemns any and all acts of sexual assault. The safety of our guests remains our highest priority‚” she said‚ adding that the company was also aware of the police investigation into the incident.
Paul Rowney‚ spokesman for the Red Frogs‚ a support group for school leavers that sets up at the festival every year‚ said that partygoers should be mindful of their friends.
“For us we always want people to look after each other and never leave a mate behind. Make this about your friends and make sure you are safe. The thing we have noticed about this year is that this is an isolated incident and the majority of the revelry has been incident free‚” he added.
In a statement‚ Rage Festival spokesman Darren Sandos condemned the “alleged rape”.
“Rage Festival takes the safety of its festival community very seriously and does not condone any acts of sexual violence whatsoever. We are deeply saddened to hear about this alleged incident.
“The matter has been handed over to the local police authorities and we cannot comment further as the incident is under investigation. The organisers are cooperating fully with all parties as they proceed with their investigation and we will provide support wherever and however we can‚” he said.
Sandos added: “The alleged incident took place outside of any Rage Festival venue or area managed by the festival and‚ therefore‚ outside of our security and policing structures. We understand that the hotel is co-operating directly with the police as this is where the alleged incident took place.”
Speaking to the Sunday Times ahead of Rage last week‚ festival organiser William McIntyre said the security detail at this year’s event had been increased.
“Parents are allowing us to look after their kids for a week so we work closely with security companies and the police‚” he said.
BY JEFF WICKS