DURBAN - THE new Covid-19 variant has instilled fear in some matric pupils, deterring them from attending the popular Ballito Rage festival that starts on Tuesday.
The festival, an annual event for matric pupils, runs for five consecutive nights until December 6.
Last year's Rage was labelled a super-spreader event by then minister of health Dr Zweli Mkhize, after many pupils who had attended tested positive for Covid-19.
The Daily News spoke to some Grade 12 pupils on Monday at Durban Girls Secondary after they had finished writing English paper 3.
“I will not be attending the Rage because I am trying by all means to follow Covid-19 protocols. I am also very scared of the virus so I tend to keep my crowd very small to limit the chances (of infection),” Jade Doorgachad, 18, from Glenwood, said.
Thokozani Cele, 17, from Umgababa, said attending events such as the Rage festival would put her and her family members at risk.
“This will be my first December that I am free to spend with my family and friends. These are the people I am comfortable around and we could take off our masks because most of us are vaccinated. Going to the festival where there will be many people would endanger those around me, especially the elders in my family,” Cele said.
Alexandra Wycomb, 17, from the Durban CBD, said the announcement of the new variant had ruined her chances to celebrate.
“I am looking forward to finishing exams. The past two years have been long with Covid-19. With the new variant I can’t be attending Rage celebrations while the numbers would rise the next day. I am nervous. I had hoped that it would get better,” Wycomb said.
Anele Ngwenya, 18, from South Beach, said she was planning to unwind at her homestead in Ulundi to avoid crowded areas in the city.
“I will not be even spending time with my friends because I am scared of the new variant. Going to such a big event and meeting other people would be very careless of me,” Ngwenya said.
Department of Education spokesperson Kwazi Mthethwa called on all matric pupils not to participate in any form of group entertainment.
“We have not played any part in organising such parties or celebrations. We must remember that this event became a super-spreader last year, which resulted in an outrageous increase in the number of positive cases. We are therefore urging pupils to prevent such an event,” Mthethwa said.
Meanwhile, Rage organisers confirmed that the event would go ahead, adding that only vaccinated attendees and staff would be allowed.
“Ballito Rage reiterates that it has all available Covid-19 safety precautions in place, well beyond those mandated by the government and advised by our highly skilled Covid-19 team," organisers said.