Community ‘sick of fireworks’

2012-11-21 00:00

RESIDENTS from a South Coast suburb are signing a petition to declare Umtentweni a no-fireworks zone and will keep collecting names until the issue goes to council and hopefully by-laws are changed.

This follows the “big bangs” during Diwali celebrations last week which left wild and domestic animals traumatised. Residents stayed awake as the celebrations progressed late into the night.

The petition, which has been circulating since last week, has close to 100 signatures on it.

Vanessa Lodetti, organiser of the document, said residents were not against the Hindu celebration, but they were thinking of animals who suffer severe trauma because of the “big bangs”.

“We are not fighting with Hindu people, but we are saying there should be a designated area for them to ignite their big loud fireworks.

“Animals have extremely sensitive hearing and with the loud noise of fireworks going off they become traumatised. The elderly are also affected by the loud explosions,” she said.

Lodetti said the petition was available at Umtentweni Spar, at the post office and at Schooner’s pub for everyone to sign.

She plans to submit the petition to ward councillor Mike Henderson within a week.

Henderson may then follow the municipal channels of changing the by-laws.

“We have to look at this and see how it can be solved without overlooking the Hindu community, because in my understanding, Diwali is a festival of lights, not of big bangs. When I do receive the petition, I will do what I can to accommodate the whole community,” said Henderson.

Not all people are in agreement with the pettition though.

Chairperson of the Hindu Cultural Federation Sathyen Singh said he could not understand why people would be against the fireworks as Diwali was only celebrated once a year.

“Fireworks have existed for quite some time now simply to light up the sky on the Hindu’s New Year’s eve. I don’t support the loud bangs, but it’s only on one day a year that we get to celebrate.

“They are not there to harm anything or anyone,” said Singh.

Marburg resident Kumaran Pillay, who is Hindu and celebrates Diwali, said he didn’t understand why there was such negativity about fireworks.

“It’s selfish for these people to sign such petitions, because it’s our religious right as Hindus to have fireworks during our celebrations.

“We should be allowed to do as other religions do when they are celebrating and not have fingers pointed at us,” said Pillay.

Hibiscus Coast District Municipality spokesperson Xolani Dlangalala said when they get the petition, they will consider the by-laws and many factors of a diverse society.

“If people were not happy with the fireworks that were going off during Diwali celebrations, they should follow the channels to inform the municipality,” said Dlangalala.

Victor Chetty, Hibiscus Coast Municipality’s former director of protection services, who together with colleagues, played a key role in drafting the by-laws, said the public refuses to abide by the rules.

He said society was simply hiding behind their religious beliefs to break the by-laws.

“I also celebrate the festival of lights, but the public has always refused to abide by the simple by-laws we have,” said Chetty.

The by-laws require that residents inform the authorities before igniting fireworks. They should also obtain permission to designate an area for doing so, but this hasn’t been the case, said Chetty.

The SPCA’s manager, Alistair Sinclair, said that anything that would protect animals from the devastating effects of traumatic fireworks would make him very happy.

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