Tough new fireworks laws for city

2013-05-21 00:00

THERE is no firework ban in South Africa and come Diwali on Sunday, November 3, this year, the Hindu community will be able to celebrate with noisy flair.

The assurance was given yesterday by the president of the South African Hindu Dharma Sabha, Ram Maharaj.

Senior members of the sabha had a meeting with the office of the Chief Inspector of Explosives.

Maharaj, who is also an ANC member of the KZN Legislature, said the meeting was with the Section Commander for Explosives Control, Colonel Jurie van Staden

He said they were able to confirm that there was no ban on fireworks in the country.

Maharaj warned, however, that there should be no “big bangs”.

“In 2001, we called for a ban on the importation of extremely loud fireworks.

“The sabha calls upon all Hindus not to buy or use ‘big bangs’. We need to use fireworks with a sense of discipline, responsibility and care to prevent harm to people, pets and property,” he added.

The fireworks regulations are currently under review and the sabha also presented Van Staden with a detailed submission proposing certain amendments to the draft regulations.

One of these is a request for fireworks to be used during the celebration of the festival of Karthigai Deepam.

This is a festival that has its roots in south India, which takes place at any time in the month after Diwali. It is when the Moon is in line with a constellation of stars and the celebration is one of unity and celebrating the family.

Sisters pray for their brothers’ wellbeing and the brothers in turn promise to safeguard the sisters in times of trouble.

This festival also involves the lighting of lamps.

Maharaj said that during the meeting Van Staden outlined key requirements in terms of the Explosives Act. These included:

• That the public could buy approved fireworks only from licensed dealers.

• Children under the age of 16 could use fireworks only under adult supervision.

• Fireworks may not be used within 500 metres of any explosives factory, petrol depot or gasometer. They can’t be used in any building or public thoroughfare and can be used only in a public place or resort with prior written permission of the local authority.

• Public firework displays may be performed only with the written permission of the Chief Inspector of Explosives, and only by a registered pyrotechnician with a valid permit.

Maharaj added a warning that the use of fireworks on private property was also regulated by municipal by-laws.

He said the by-laws must be observed by people intending to use fireworks during the Diwali celebrations and that fireworks must be used safely and responsibly at all times.

• Thobani Ngqulunga reports that tough new fireworks by-laws will be introduced to Pietermaritzburg shortly.

The new by-laws were approved by the Msunduzi executive committee on Thursday.

The next step is for the by-laws to be approved by the full council and then published in the provincial gazette.

The new rules state that unless otherwise authorised nobody may set off fireworks on any day or at any time other than from 7 pm to 10 pm on the Hindu New Year, the Jewish festival of Lag B’Omer, on Guy Fawkes Day and at Diwali, and from 11 pm on

New Year’s Eve to 1 am on New Year’s Day.

The use of fireworks on any other day or for any other reasons will require the permission of the Msunduzi Municipality.



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