Bouncers: Promoters’ nightmare

Showbiz Reporter
In 2010, around this time, there was so much talk around the high profile Akon/Sean Paul concert which had been held on September 4. The much-hyped event, which put the local entertainment industry on the map, left its mark, causing so many traffic jams and attracting a bumper crowd including foreigners at the National Sports Stadium in Harare.

While there had been a lot of talk about the promoter of the event, Prince Tendai Mupfurutsa, before the event similar to Josey Mahachi who is being credited for bringing the richest African man — Aliko Dangote to Zimbabwe, everyone seemed to have forgotten him days after the show as all the attention had been shifted to Akon and Sean Paul. Understandably so as the two artistes had staged a world class show, giving Zimbabweans a feel of international concerts.

As a result, the only talk that was there after the show was either how “hot” Akon/Sean Paul were, how people’s wallets/mobile phones had been stolen or how the bouncers helped people into the VIP. No one cared about the promoter. What they did not know was that, it was at that point that the same Prince Tendai who had brought them joy, needed them most.

After hosting Akon and Sean Paul, Prince Tendai’s life changed for the worst, as he had no joy. The concert plunged him into serious debt. Unsurprisingly so, because of the lax ticketing system and entrance points where some money is believed to have been stolen. The bulk of the people who graced the concert paid less than half of what they should have paid and have security details to thank for their illegal entry.

The same security details who in one way or another robbed Prince Tendai of the huge amount of money he would have made had they been honest, were the first visitors to his office on the Monday after the show to demand their pending balance. His office was a hive of activity with the muscular men threatening him with all sorts of things, claiming they would not leave till they got their payment. It seemed Prince Tendai did not readily have their money and preferred to lock himself up while thinking of how to pay them.

Months later, Prince Tendai succumbed to a motor neurone stroke which affects the nervous system after failing to recover from the financial setback. He died a year later on December 28, 2011.

And now, years later, promoters are still falling prey to the same security details, who are perfecting their act of causing commotion and disorganisation at entry points in order to cash in from the confusion.

Gone are the days when a security detail’s job was to protect people and make sure things flow smoothly as they seem to be maniacs nowadays.

It is now risky for a promoter to rely on bouncers to collect money on their behalf as they are not honest. At the Akon/Sean Paul concert, the VIP area whose tickets cost between $50 and $100, ended up being a free for all as security details were clearly overwhelmed. Some people reportedly entered the VIP section for a measly $5.

Events attended by Saturday Leisure over the past year have shown that the situation is only getting worse with corruption being conducted publicly. And after stealing from the gates, the bouncers further claim a lot of money as payment from promoters, turning violent once not paid on time.

A recent assessment of Nigerian musician — Davido’s concert at Belgravia Sports Club showed that security details had turned professional thieves in uniform.

With a dog on guard, a security detail and a person who seemed to be an authority pretending to be scaring those trying to smuggle themselves into the stadium, were actually negotiating with them, accepting up to a quarter of the ticket price. While tickets at the gate cost $20, the security demanded $5. The deal was simple, you hand him $5 and he pulls the dog to the side and lets you in through a fence which people had damaged.

Once in the stadium, he would walk with the dog towards your direction while you run so as to pretend as if you would have sneaked in. Eventually you would fade into darkness. This is one of many forms of corruption by security details.

The bouncers work as a syndicate that allows people in for small amounts. Some ask those who move around as groups to pay half the amount which they pocket. Socialites and those known for buying bouncers drinks in clubs are in most cases let in to different events for free, further crippling promoters as these people usually move around with a lot of followers.

Bulawayo promoter, Joe tha OG, said some bouncers work together with cashiers at shows to steal money.

“Not everyone is trustworthy. I’ve seen the practice happening at many shows. There’re always corrupt activities between bouncers and trusted cashiers, who, after the show, demand to be paid in full,” Joe tha OG said.

He said unfortunately, nothing much could be done to curb the corrupt activities.

“The best thing you can do is to put those you trust to collect money and put someone even closer to monitor all movements. But you can’t stop people from stealing from you 100 percent,” he said.

Kalawa Homecoming Party promoter Vusumuzi Siqalaba said bouncers had become a headache.

“When there’s commotion at entry points, it’s because bouncers want to use that confusion to let people in for funny amounts so that they pocket the money. When there’s order, they can’t steal so they cause the commotion.

“At times they delay people from entering so that there’s pressure at the door, then they take advantage,” said Siqalaba.

He said he witnessed this behaviour when they hosted the Kalawa Homecoming Party last year and would ensure they avoid a repeat.

“To curb a repeat of last year’s commotion, we’ll this year sell advance tickets. On the day of the show, there’ll be a selling point away from the entrance. The entrance will be for those who have tags,” said Siqalaba.

The NaakMusiQ show at Horizon Club last month saw bouncers harassing innocent patrons, hoping to get bribes while they were at it.

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