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November 05, 2009

Guy Fawkes tonight, which means fireworks!

Photo courtesy sunsurfr

Just to remind you what all the fuss is about, Guy Fawkes was the explosives expert in a group of English Catholics involved in the Gunpowder Plot. This was intended to overthrow the English Protestant King James I and to knock off as many members of the Protestant aristocracy as possible by blowing up barrels of gunpowder during the Opening of the Houses of Parliament on November 5, 1605. The plan went awry and ended gorily when the rebels were captured and a number executed by being hanged, drawn and quartered.

Happily, South Africans don’t have to engage with the historical subject matter and can just enjoy the chance to legally set off fireworks and light bonfires.

To avoid things getting out of control – and bearing in mind that it is illegal to light fireworks anywhere other than a designated area unless you have the correct permit – the City of Cape Town has issued a list of places where commercially bought fireworks (none of those homemade concoctions, please) can be set off in a controlled environment. 

These are: Mnandi Beach parking area (near the Law Enforcement office), Maiden’s Cove parking area, Strandfontein Beach parking area, Athlone Stadium parking area,  Gordon’s Bay Main Beach, Strand Beach (at Deep Blue), Macassar Beach, Sunrise Beach (Muizenberg), Fish Hoek Beach, Hout Bay Beach, De Grendel Sports Ground (Parow), Nooitgedacht Sports Ground (Bishop Lavis), sports ground in Roosendal Street (Delft), Blue Downs Sports Stadium (Hindle Road, Delft), Mamre Park (opposite the SAPS), Wesfleur Sportsfield (Atlantis), Palms site (Milnerton), and Blaauwberg Beach (in the area opposite KFC in Blaauwberg Road).

Photo courtesy Harold Neal

Fireworks can be very dangerous if wrongly handled or if badly manufactured from inferior quality materials. The usual disclaimers apply, in that the City accepts no liability for injuries or damage resulting from fireworks set off at the sites listed. It’s advisable to avoid buying fireworks from informal traders. Rather get them from specialist shops where they are sold in properly sealed packaging. It is also illegal for anyone under the age of 16 to buy or handle fireworks without adult supervision.

And finally, on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves, please remember that to animals, the noise is very painful to their highly sensitive eardrums, the light flashes are bewildering and the entire experience is utterly terrifying. So while you may be having fun, it’s no fun at all for our four-legged furry friends. Please keep animals inside after dark and close the windows and curtains.

To report illegal fireworks in your area, call the Metro Police Control Centre on 0860 765 423, or the SAPS Emergency Control Centre on 10111. For medical emergencies, call the Public Emergency Communication Centre on 107 or 021 480 7700 from a cellphone. For general enquiries call the Corporate Call Centre on 860 103 089 or the Disaster Risk Management Centre on 080 911 4357.

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