OppiKoppi cancellation: hard knock on SMEs

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This week’s OppiKoppi cancellation is yet another example of how crime affects South Africans, particularly, small businesses.

Matchbox LIVE CEO Theresho Selesho, organiser of OppiKoppi announced in a statement on Wednesday that the 25th OppiKoppi music festival in the mining district of Northam, Limpopo, will not take place this year – after the 2018 event was ruined by criminals targeting attendees.

Having being expected to take place between August 8 and 10, Business Day says that the cancellation brings forth disappointment for SMEs who worked in preparing goods, designers, promoters and other creatives who had been part of the festival with the hope of strengthening their brand at the festival this year.

Hezron Louw of Sumting Fresh told Business Live that his business will feel the impact of the cancellation‚ as the festival provided a major boost to annual turnover. “There are people who sell firewood‚ others that sell liquor and meat. Even supermarkets [will feel the pinch] because people travelling from outside don’t usually stock up on what they will need until they get to the area‚” he said.

There will be a negative impact on local job creation and employment because “we also employ local people from Northam for the festival‚ train them on food safety and get them on board to work with us. We have had regulars who have worked with us for three to four years, but this year there will be no work for them‚” said Louw.

Braai Guru, a new and authentic enterprising meat company in Randburg, also told Business Day that they had hoped to take their business to a festival in the Netherlands in 2020 and say that “attending the festival was not just about the immediate financial gain but was used as a “springboard” to get access to international festivals.”

Selesho said: “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.”

Times Live featured posts from the event’s Facebook page of people’s safety concerns:

  • “I had a great time last year but the theft was out of control, which is making me sceptical of ever going again.” – March 24
  • “Too much theft going on. I can’t fully relax knowing I have to be alert at all times. Looks like the best of ‘Koppi is in the past with these tsotsis flocking after all the big festivals.” – January 14
  • “It’s a thief paradise, guys. Used to be well managed, now they steal everything. Won’t recommend it to anyone with anything of value. They steal everything, from food and cooking equipment to smashing windows, taking everything in your car.” – November 2018

“We’ve had some crime issues in the past, but this year (2018) was the worst,” Selesho said. Speaking to News24, he promised that the festival would return in 2020.

To curb the increasing crime rate and safety of the festival goers, Selesho says that “we are even investigating bringing the festival to a venue closer to a major city, to enable day tickets, less travelling and other options for the attendees.

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