The V&A Waterfront, which attracts millions of visitors each year, will be going ahead with its New Year’s Eve fireworks display despite criticism from animal rights groups. File photo: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA).
Management at the V&A Waterfront is facing outrage from local animal rights activists over its decision to go ahead with the annual New Year’s Eve fireworks display at the precinct.

The activists accuse management of not exercising due diligence in deciding to continue with the event.

Over the past few months, the City of Cape Town has clamped down on fireworks displays.

Fireworks displays are not permitted in terms of the Community Fire Safety By-law, but the City has previously accommodated the practice for Diwali, Guy Fawkes Night and New Year’s Eve.

The V&A Waterfront is to hold the fireworks display despite a recent protest against it by activists. At the protest at the V&A Waterfront, about 40 animal rights activists stressed their concern about the effects the fireworks could have on animals and the environment.

“It’s very sad that the V&A will be setting off fireworks this coming New Year’s Eve. We feel sorry for all the land, marine and air animals that are going to be affected on that particular day, ” said Voices for African Wildlife founder, Kenesias Dambakurima.

He told Weekend Argus that concern was stressed in a letter given to the the V&A Waterfront’s head of PR and communications, Donald Kau.

Chairperson of Beauty Without Cruelty, Toni Brockhoven, said the organisation had suggested alternatives to fireworks to the V&A Waterfront for “amazing celebrations that are environmental- and animal-friendly”.

“We source alternative options to delight and be thrill-inducing (but) not at the cost of animals and of course the environment or individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder. This will also eliminate human injury,” she said.

“We will be following up with them (V&A Waterfront management) in the new year as per their promise to us. They said that they will be looking at alternatives,” she said.

The organisation realised changes to the planned fireworks celebrations could not be arranged at this late stage.

The V&A Waterfront’s annual fireworks display was not a City of Cape Town event, said mayco member for safety and security JP Smith.

“The Waterfront fireworks were approved by the SAPS,” he said, adding the City had held discussions with V&A Waterfront management over this year’s display.

“They said it was too late to cancel. They will also ensure that next year they use fireworks that will be silent. The Waterfront will explore fireworks used by Diwali (fireworks) outlets in future, which are community-friendly.”

Kau said V&A Waterfront management continuously sought to implement “green business practices” across the precinct.

“This year we have re-imaged the festive season by partnering with over 140 African artists to create a vibrant wonderland made from recycled materials.”

More than 20000 visitors were expected to attend the New Year’s Eve celebrations at the V&A Waterfront.

Weekend Argus