Glaxo Smith Kline (GSK), who sponsored the Linkin Park concert at the Cape Town Stadium on Wednesday night, have responded to calls for comment on the tragedy at the show that saw one woman die and a further 19 people injured when an advertising structure collapsed in high winds.
“We are shocked and deeply saddened by the accident that occurred, and our immediate concern is for the victims and the families affected by this tragic incident. Our thoughts and prayers are with them,” GSK said in a statement.
“The Lucozade advertising hording and scaffolding at the stadium was erected by our contractors in full compliance with the safety specifications and regulations of the concert organisers and the City of Cape Town. The structure was signed off by the relevant authorities,” it said.
“A full investigation into the accident is underway and we and our contractors will cooperate fully with the authorities involved,” it said.
The accident took place as people were queuing to enter the Stadium at around 7pm. According to the City of Cape Town, a Lucozade brand activation tower attached to scaffolding had been erected outside the Stadium as part of a promotion.
In a statement, the City’s spokesperson Kylie Hatton said a temporary scaffolding structure in the Stadium precinct collapsed due to high winds. “The temporary structure was a branding activation, located adjacent to the Stadium forecourt on the Cape Town CBD side of the venue,” Hatton said.
Hatton said today that the City of Cape Town’s priority was getting an investigation team into place, and starting the probe as soon as possible.
The question is, which outdoor media company was responsible for the structure? News of the accident had the industry buzzing, but it failed to provide answers, only suggestions that perhaps the event organisers themselves were responsible.
The Media Online asked BIG Concerts. The company’s John Langford responded. “Please be advised that Big Concerts were not responsible for the structure, nor the activation. I suggest that you contact Lucozade directly regarding their structure, and the approvals that they secured.”
Linkin Park themselves came back with a statement on their Facebook page late last night, after the concert, confirming that one of the injured had died.
“Following our performance tonight at Cape Town Stadium, we were advised that several people were injured as a result of the collapse of an advertising tower erected by Lucozade in the parking area outside the venue.
“We wish to express our deep sadness and concern for those injured and our heartfelt condolences to the family of the fan who died as a result of her injuries.
“Though we have had no relationship with the sponsor or the entity responsible for erecting the structure, we take the safety of our fans very seriously and our thoughts are with all of those who were affected by this tragedy,” the band said.
The City of Cape Town said the structure had been “pre-approved and certified safe, by structural engineers prior to the event. The remainder of the structure was dismantled and the commanding officer at the Venue Operations Centre declared the event site safe shortly afterwards”.
Paramedics on standby treated many of the injured at the scene, before they were taken to nearby hospitals.
News of the accident roared through Twitter, sparking rumours and even misinformation, with initial tweets saying part of the stage had collapsed. But city councillor, Bev Schafer, was in the stadium and corrected misconceptions. “My intent was to keep a factual account of what happened,” she tweeted.
Journalist Anso Thom commented that “early tweets were hysterical and incorrect” while Cape Times’ assistant editor, Janet Heard, said that was “all the more reason for the people who have the facts to tweet, quick response essential”. Veteran journalist Ray Joseph said while Twitter was fantastic for breaking news stories, the “bad thing” was that “rumour spreads like wildfire, especially among ‘civilians’.”
Organisers Big Concerts and Lucozade came in for a hammering, for not being responsive fast enough, although Lucozade South Africa did respond on Twitter a little later. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the #LinkinParkAccident injured.”
Big Concerts made a statement with the City of Cape Town, and by early this morning, the company issued its own statement via its Facebook page. “Following the regrettable incident at Cape Town Stadium this evening, Big Concerts would like to express our deepest sympathies and condolences to the injured persons and in particular the family of the fan who tragically passed away from injuries sustained when an advertising tower collapsed outside the stadium from gusting gale force winds.
“We would like to thank the City of Cape Town, the South African Police Services, and all the medics, doctors, and disaster risk personnel for their swift and professional response to this accident,” it said.
A source within the out of home media industry, with enormous experience in the brand activation field, told The Media Online that last night’s accident was every out of home media company’s “worst nightmare”.
“I hope the company that supplied the promotional staff had insured them because if not, they’ll be in a world of trouble. You have to cover your bases where staff are concerned, as you are liable for their safety,” the source said.
Another source wondered if a “formal outdoor company” was responsible for the brand activation. “We wouldn’t have used scaffolding, I’ll tell you that much. We would have erected a proper structure. That said, it seems as if this was an act of God.”
It’s a point being made on the social networks, with many people querying how it could have been approved considering the weather.
Sarel du Plessis, head of Out of Home South Africa (OHMSA), the industry’s umbrella body, said it was “significant that the reports indicate that the structure was pre-approved and certified safe by structural engineers. I am in the process of establishing more details”.
Du Plessis said members of OHMSA sign a Code Of Practice and Standards. Item four in the Code prescribes to members as to the safety of the public when erecting OOH structures.
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