News / Opinion / Columns
With people having made their 2020 resolutions – marking the start of a new year – in my neighbourhood of Kempton Park, some locals do not seem to have quite moved on.
There you hear the deafening sound of fireworks, struggling to distinguish between the firecracker or a gunshot, due to a loud bang.
When I was younger, I use to be a big fan of fireworks, bought for us by my dad to celebrate the dawn of New Year’s Day.
Nowadays, not anymore, because fireworks have lost its true meaning.
Just take a walk through downtown Johannesburg and you will realise you are not in the land of the faint-hearted. You have entered a world of fireworks, which are discharged on pavements, rooftops, in the middle of the road, just about anywhere.
With unperturbed police passing by, you sometimes wonder whether – in a country governed by laws – those in authority are unaware of municipal by-laws. Or should they be put on a refresher course?
This week I spoke to national police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo, who did not mince his words on the use of fireworks.
“When buying or using fireworks, people should be considerate of the impact that they have – particularly on the elderly and animals.
“They should bear in mind that the sale and use of fireworks is regulated by municipal bylaws and they have to comply, lest they be fined.
“Fireworks make a loud bang which can have adverse consequences,” said Naidoo.
Well said, but in practice, the opposite is what you see in Kempton Park, Johannesburg and many other parts of the country.
In terms of municipal by-laws, public use of fireworks is regulated and anyone in violation of the legislation could be liable to a fine of up to R1,500, if charged.
Other provisions of the law are that:
Experts on fireworks warn that the average firework can emit loud noise up to 190 decibels – constituting an upper range of human hearing – which may cause irreversible ear damage in animals.
Firecrackers can injure the hands or face if they explode at close range. If not handled properly, fireworks can cause burns and eye injuries in children and adults.
If the trend of discharging fireworks irresponsibly continues, government – at local and national level – should only allow legal public fireworks displays in designated areas, leaving the lighting to the professionals.
Fireworks, defined as a class of low explosive pyrotechnic devices – are merely used for aesthetics and entertainment.
Displays are beautiful and make great photographs. But I have had enough of the madness.
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