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The Sound of Failure

29 January 2014, 14:25

Fireworks season – the period during which some members of our society victimise other people, their children, the elderly and their animals, was characterised by failure this year.

The Public failed to observe the law or show consideration towards others. While Guy Fawkes was an improvement this year, Diwali and New Year were far worse, according to reports from all over the country, than previous years.

Durban, Parys, Hilton, Primrose, Wychwood, Glen Hills, Pietermaritzburg, Kyalami, Randburg,  Benoni, Yellowwood Park, Randpark,  Sydenham, Walkerville, Sasolburg, The Bluff, Pretoria,  Kloof, Kensington, and many others reported that fireworks were ‘worse than ever’ at New Year.

The Municipalities and Lawmakers in some areas have done a reasonable job, most notably those that have designated areas and times for fireworks displays, effectively taking fireworks out of private hands and making the process the responsibility of professionals.

Joburg and Durban/eThekwini are two municipalities that have not done this, and they are two of the areas in which firework abuse is widespread, to the extent that people light fireworks whenever they wish, wherever they like, making the period a constant barrage of noise affecting children, the elderly, and animals. All municipalities have effectively failed their residents by not enacting legislation that protects their interests. In fact, they arguably protect the interests of the inconsiderate and self-indulgent more than those of community-minded citizens.

Desiree – “I live in the Musgrave area. Fireworks and big bangs started being set off on the 28th October and still were being set off on the 7th November. Morons setting off big bangs and fireworks at midnight, 2 in the morning and 6.30 in the morning. We had rockets flying over the roof of our building. Cars alarms went off, hadedas and animals freaking out and babies crying. I eventually got to bed at 1.45 a.m in the morning. The big bangs let off at midnight and 2 in the morning sounded like a tanker had exploded as this was 3 days after Diwali resulting in major sleep deprivation.”

Kevin – “This year was a disastrous attempt at allowing fireworks over a 30 minute period. Having worked throughout Africa, I have heard war zones quieter than our neighbourhood from 6pm on 29 Dec 2013 right up to 2 hours ago on 2 Jan 2014... Complaining and reporting to Metro was a useless waste of time as no-one was arrested and I have yet to see a prosecution charge. Yes, there are still the odd fireworks going off in Pinetown, 2 days later...

The Police let the public down, failing to do their sworn duty to uphold the law, and in so doing sent a message to the lawless public that they can break the law with impunity.

In summary:

1.    Fireworks cause distress and injuries to humans and animals on an annual basis.

2.    The use of fireworks has also caused serious friction between neighbours, communities, religious and ethnic groups.

3.    It is untenable to allow the above to continue occurring on an annual basis. The current status quo of allowing residents to regulate themselves and the police turning a blind eye to by-law violations thus needs to stop to ensure we overcome / avoid these problems.

4.    National environmental laws regulate noise and air pollution. Municipalities are bound to respect these laws, which translates to Councils proactively making provisions to create an enabling environment for these laws to be respected. This means cracking down on those who break noise and pollution laws.

5.    Metro by-laws already exist that regulate noise and air pollution. To date the city has failed to enforce these by-laws, yet the city council is bound by legislation to enforce these by-laws.

6.    The Explosives Act specifically prohibits the use of explosives (fireworks are classified as explosives) without a permit, and yet all over the country in places where there are no by-laws providing exceptions to the Explosives Act, fireworks are used without permits.

7.    Cultural and religious rights are not absolute constitutional rights and may be curbed by government, particularly if it is reasonable and justifiable to do so. Given the problems that arise, as well as the contention between different groups that fireworks cause on an annual basis, it is reasonable and justifiable to limit the rights of a minority of people who want to use fireworks, especially if they can celebrate/express their religious or traditional rights in a less extreme manner.

8.    By-laws allowing Councils the right to authorise fireworks displays in urban areas are inconsistent with noise and pollution laws and effectively give people permission to break the law.

9.    The Animals Protection Act  states clearly that it is an offence to terrify an animal. Fireworks terrify animals, therefore all legislation giving people permission to use fireworks where there are animals is unlawful,

Every year the fireworks become louder and more intrusive because they are used indiscriminately with no regard for laid-down times or locations.

WHY should people who do not share a religion or tradition be forced to endure the invasive noise generated by the celebration of their rituals?

WHY should people with small children or animals have to sedate them or make other noises to muffle the sound of fireworks?

WHY should shift workers have to lose sleep because of fireworks?

WHY should law-abiding citizens tolerate the failure of lawmakers, police and the public in addressing this abuse of the common-law and constitutional rights of others? In recent times there has been more and more talk, in social networks, of vigilante action against fireworks abusers.

Is that what it will take for legislators and police to wake up and realise that there is no place in a responsible, progressive society for the waste, destruction and inconsideration that characterise fireworks?

I hope not, but unless something is done by the authorities in question, this is a powder keg waiting to be lit…

Derek du Toit
Fireworks Banning Initiative

http://fbi.hopeful.ws

derek@hopeful.ws

Original BlogPost: http://hopeful.ws/fbi/the-sound-of-failure/ 

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