Uproar over V&A Waterfront's decision to host New Year’s Eve fireworks display

The V&A Waterfront to host a fireworks display on New Year’s Eve. File Picture: David Ritchie

The V&A Waterfront to host a fireworks display on New Year’s Eve. File Picture: David Ritchie

Published Dec 8, 2023


Cape Town - Animal Welfare organisations have slammed a decision by the V&A Waterfront to host a fireworks display on New Year’s Eve.

The Cape Animal Welfare Forum (CAWF), representing 59 animal welfare organisations, said they were dismayed by the “ill-considered” decision by the management of the popular tourist destination.

“In 2020, the V&A Waterfront made a commendable commitment to forgo fireworks displays, pledging to celebrate New Year’s in a safe and environmentally friendly manner. CAWF praised this decision for its potential positive impact on the environment and the diverse animal life inhabiting the V&A Waterfront area.”

The organisation said the V&A Waterfront has reversed its stance and “callously disregarded the welfare and well-being of animals, particularly the wild species that call the V&A Waterfront home.

“This includes vulnerable seabird species and the protected Cape rur seals, protected in terms of the Threatened or Protected Species Regulation. Despite the V&A Waterfront’s claim of concern for pets, their actions demonstrate a blatant disregard for the environment and wildlife residing in the area.”

The organisation has listed concerns including air pollution, noise pollution, waste and litter and the risk to protected species.

Chief Inspector Jaco Pieterse of the Cape of Good Hope SPCA said: “The severe distress caused to animals by the unpredictable noises can result in fear, anxiety, panic, injuries, and in some cases, even death.

We call on the V&A Waterfront to reconsider its decision and cancel the fireworks display.

“This is an opportunity to demonstrate genuine concern for animals and the environment. Fireworks are a wasteful expense that could be redirected to support animal welfare or aid underprivileged children.”

They said the financial resources allocated for the fireworks display could be better utilised to support initiatives that uplift the well-being of animals or aid suffering children within the City of Cape Town.

Mayco member for safety and security, JP Smith, confirmed that there are no official designated fireworks sites in the metropole but said the V&A Waterfront obtained a permit from the SAPS in terms of the Explosives Act.

“The discharging of fireworks into the ocean does not fall within the City’s ambit to manage in terms of our events by-law. In recent years they have foregone fireworks and opted for a laser light show instead, but somehow they reversed this decision and obtained a permit from SAPS.”

The fireworks display was punted on the V&A’s website and social media channels.

V&A spokesperson Donald Kau said: We have put together an exciting line-up of musical entertainment for the evening which includes a 5-minute fireworks display at midnight on New Years Eve, approved by the city as well as SAPS with permits in place.

“We feel that the midnight moment celebration is a once-a-year, shared moment by visitors and locals, in a safe and designated area in the waterfront. We plead with people with animals to note the time and ensure that their pets are protected for the short duration of the fireworks display.”

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Cape Argus