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Motorists urged to rat out stompie throwers

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Published Jan 10, 2012

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Cape Town fire chief Ian Schnetler wants Capetonians to report motorists who toss cigarette butts out of their car windows.

Schnetler warned motorists that they would be fined if they are caught flicking stompies out of their car windows.

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“Besides the possible fire risk, it is a pollution hazard,” Schnetler said. “People have to be responsible.”

The City of Cape Town launched the stompie hotline in 2007 after a devastating fire, allegedly caused by a cigarette butt thrown out of a car window by a tourist, burnt tracts of Table Mountain and killed a British tourist.

Denzel Ramedies, the city’s fire and life safety head, said more than 1 000 warning letters had been sent to offenders last year, and that two or three people had been fined.

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Transgressors were fined up to R1 500, he said.

“With our climate and during the Cape’s summer especially, you can’t just toss your cigarette butt out the window,” he said. “It is a huge fire risk. We don’t want anyone injured or killed in any runaway fires this summer.”

Ramedies said all calls were followed up, but added that callers had to be willing to make an affidavit with the police about the incident.

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“There can’t be any anonymous calls,” said Ramedies. “You have to say exactly where the incident occurred, at what time and give the vehicle’s registration number.”

Jaco Groenewald, head of the stompie call centre, said staff forwarded all the information to the fire department to investigate.

“We take down the details and send the information to the fire department, which investigates the complaint,” said Groenewald.

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“Before people call, they must have all the details… We need the vehicle’s registration number and exactly where the incident occurred.”

The city amended its fire safety by-law in June 2007 to make it easier to fine people who throw burning butts out of car windows.

It’s not necessary for the prosecution to prove who physically threw the burning item.

Instead, the owner of the car will be held responsible for any “throwing, putting down or dropping of a burning match, cigarette, or other burning material or any material capable of spontaneous combustion or self-ignition in a road or any other place that occurs from a vehicle”.

The stompie hotline control centre number is 021 424 7715.

[email protected] - Cape Argus

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