The City of Cape Town has backed down on its decision not to have designated fireworks sites this year, after receiving complaints from the Hindu community.
It initially announced that there would be no designated sites this year for Diwali, Guy Fawkes and New Year’s Eve.
“While many have welcomed the decision to not have the designated sites, individuals within the Hindu community have expressed their dissatisfaction about the impact this will have on Diwali later this month,” said mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith on Tuesday.
He said that, in the spirit of respecting the Hindu cultural tradition, the City had consulted with interested parties and decided to make the parking lot at the Athlone Stadium available next Sunday for Diwali celebrations.
Smith said he wanted to set the record straight, stressing that the City had not banned fireworks, as only national government had the power to do so.
In terms of the Community Fire Safety By-law, people could still apply for a permit for organised fireworks displays.
The City, however, was not obligated to provide designated fireworks sites.
“The Explosives Act is very strict about the importing and use of fireworks. However, we have a problem with illegal fireworks imports, sale and detonation, particularly in Cape Town between October and January annually,” said Smith.
News24 reported on Monday that there had been a largely positive public reaction to the news of no designated fireworks sites.
The Cape of Good Hope SPCA said it was long overdue.
“Historically, animals have suffered long at the expense of humans with fireworks in South Africa and we hope that the rest of the country will follow suit with this bold move by the City of Cape Town.”
Many on social media welcomed the news, especially animal owners. A few were more sceptical about how this would be enforced.