With people celebrating Guy Fawkes today, officers at Athlone Police will be patrolling residential areas and schools. They started patrolling yesterday when schools dismissed learners the day before Guy Fawkes.“This will be done to avoid learners from hurting and smearing innocent victims with paint, eggs, flour, blades and shoe polish. “The Athlone Police are doing this in partnership with Metro Police and Law enforcement,” says Sgt Zita Norman, spokesperson for Athlone Police.She also says they would ensure that firecrackers are not set off in residential areas.“Any person caught doing it will be given a hefty fine. “The discharging of fireworks is not allowed in terms of the Community Fire Safety By-law, but the City of Cape Town has for a number of years, made an exception to accommodate this practice for Guy Fawkes, Diwali and New Year’s Eve,” Norman says.In a statement, the City said that a number of factors made them change course this year.JP Smith, Mayco member for safety and security, says that there was a decreased appetite from subcouncils to apporve designated sites.“The cost associated with running the sites include deploying staff and resources, including law enforcement, metro police, traffic and the fire and rescue services. “The public is also opposing the use of fireworks and seeing that there will be no designated sites this year, the City appeals to residents to refrain from using fireworks,” he said. According to Smith, only national government has the legislative competency to ban the import, production and sale of fireworks or impose an age restriction. “We remind residents that, in terms of Section 30 of the Explosives Act of 1956, the use or detonation of any fireworks in any building and public thoroughfare is liable to a R200 fine; selling fireworks to a child or anyone under the age of 16 is liable to a R300 fine; allowing a child or person under the age of 16 to handle fireworks without adult supervision is liable to a R300 fine.“Members of the public with information relating to the illegal sale or use of fireworks should report this to the City’s Public Emergency Call Centre on 107 from a landline or 021 480 7700 from a cellphone or to the South African Police Service on 10111,” he says.Debbie Schäfer, provincial education minister, says her department receive complaints of learners behaving irresponsibly on Guy Fawkes Day.“Last year we received reports of learners throwing stockings filled with paint at motor vehicles, or joining in to smear fellow learners with paint. Other dangerous behaviour has also been reported, and in previous years it even resulted in physical harm to innocent learners and bystanders,” she said in a statement.According to Schäfer there is also increased absenteeism in certain schools during this period. She said some learners stay out of school to take part in Guy Fawkes activities. Others stay home out of fear of being targeted on their way to or from school.She asked parents not to keep children at home as it will be a normal school day.“Grade 12 learners are writing geography today and it would be very unfortunate and infuriating if these examinations are disrupted in any way because these learners were targeted ahead of such an important matric examination,” her statement reads.