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Johannesburg - Some see them as toys, but these play things can rip fingers from hands, burn down houses, traumatise pets and cause strife with neighbours.
This is how the Joburg metro police see fireworks, and they plan to come down heavily on anyone misusing them over the festive season.
The City of Joburg is embarking on an operation to educate people about fireworks and ensuring that by-laws are adhered to and injuries and conflict avoided over the holiday period.
The operation is called the Big Bang Theory, and it is to be spearheaded by Joburg’s metro police department (JMPD) and the city’s Emergency Management Services.
The metro police are responsible for enforcing the by-laws related to fireworks, while emergency services often respond to the injuries and fire they cause.
JMPD spokesman Wayne Minnaar said they had distributed pamphlets in various areas of Joburg that educated people about the use of fireworks, outlining when they can be fired, and what fines they stand to incur if they break the law.
Fireworks have caused some ugly confrontations in the past. During this year’s Diwali celebrations, a family claimed they were shot at by people unhappy that they were discharging fireworks, while another family said a family celebrating the religious day had fired fireworks at flamingos at a nearby sanctuary.
Nazeera Cachalia, the programme manager for the Joburg City Safety Programme, calls fireworks lethal toys.
Cachalia said the council wanted to make sure that everyone’s needs were taken into consideration, including those of pets.
“The public needs to understand that using fireworks is not a right. There are rules and regulations they need to abide by.
“We all need to behave in a responsible manner so that we can enjoy fireworks,” she said. “People need to understand the dangers.”
Fines range from R1 500 to R5 000.
Prescribed times for fireworks
New Year’s Eve 11pm-1am
New Year’s Day 7pm-10pm
Christmas Eve 7pm-10pm
Lag Ba’omer 7pm-10pm
Chinese New Year 7pm-10pm
Human Rights Day 7pm-10pm
Freedom Day 7pm-10pm
Guy Fawkes Day 7pm-10pm
Hindu New Year 7pm-10pm
Day of Goodwill 7pm-10pm
Guidelines for using fireworks
l Children are not supposed to ignite fireworks without adults’ supervision.
l Ignite fireworks outdoors only.
l It’s illegal to sell fireworks from a residential house.
l It’s illegal to buy fireworks from hawkers.
l Don’t ignite fireworks on dry leaves, trees and flammable materials or near animals.
l Store fireworks in a cool, dry place.