Picture: African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town – The Athlone Stadium parking lot was far from adequate to accommodate the Hindi community on Diwali.

So said licensed fireworks vendor Marlin Johnson, who also said the Hindi community was not consulted prior to the City’s decision to forego all designated firework discharge sites.

Yesterday, the City did an about-turn regarding its decision and said the Athlone Stadium parking lot was now the venue for Diwali.

“After the news broke on social media, I called Mayco member for safety and security JP Smith because we had known nothing about this decision. 

"Smith assured me he had consulted role-players, but when I checked with our main priest, he knew nothing about it. Nobody was consulted during this process.

“I was told if we wanted to celebrate this cultural event, we had to make an application to the City. I requested the paperwork on Saturday, and when I received the application forms, I saw we had to submit the application 15 days prior to the event day, which was going to be impossible,” said Johnson.

This led him to seek legal help.

“They have now availed the Athlone Stadium as a designated site for the discharge of fireworks on Diwali, but I foresee chaos at the site.

"The Hindi community is big and there are already issues with the fire department and their shifts. Will they have the resources available to deal with the influx of people?” said Johnson.

The City did not confirm by deadline whether the Hindi community had been consulted.

Smith said that in the spirit of respecting the Hindu cultural tradition, the City had, in consultation with interested parties, made the parking lot available.

“The City’s decision to forego designated fireworks sites does not mean it has banned fireworks. The City is not obligated to provide designated fireworks sites. 

"The Community Fire Safety By-law states: ‘A controlling authority may set aside municipal land for the purpose of the letting off of fireworks by the public, subject to... conditions... determined by the controlling authority and indicated by a notice at the site.’

“‘Any person who wishes to have a fireworks display can apply for said permit, subject to the provisions of the aforementioned legislation."

Cape Times