Residents urged to use fireworks responsibly

2017-10-17 13:45
Residents urged to adhere to fireworks by-laws.

Residents urged to adhere to fireworks by-laws. (File)

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As Hindus throughout the world prepare to observe the festival of lights from Wednesday, local residents have been urged to use fireworks responsibly and to adhere to municipal and Explosives Act bylaws.

Maureen Vida, the spokesperson for the Pietermaritzburg Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), appealed to pet owners to be vigilant and take every precaution to ensure that their pets are safe and secure.

She was speaking ahead of the Diwali celebrations tomorrow and Thursday, and other festive season fireworks celebrations.

Vida suggested pet owners make sure their property is secure and ask veterinarians to prescribe calming medication if pets are terrified of noise. She also recommended that pets have an identity disc on their collars.

“Keep your pet indoors at the time, draw the curtains and distract it with music, toys and treats,” said Vida.

She said although the above applied mainly to cats and dogs, all animals may be affected by loud noises.

“Unfortunately we cannot control the effect of fireworks on wildlife, but anyone keeping small animals like rabbits, hamsters, rats, guinea pigs and birds should cover the cages with blankets to muffle the sound. Remember, they are all sentient beings and deserve our care and compassion,” said Vida.

Msunduzi Municipality spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said the use of fireworks is regulated by bylaws under the Explosives Act, 1956, which state that:

Fireworks may not be set off in any public place, for example, in parks, on the pavement or the streets.

Children under 16 may not buy or set off fireworks unless accompanied by an adult.

Fireworks may not be sold by street vendors, hawkers or at any informal open-air facilities.

No fireworks should be set off, detonated or exploded within 200 metres of any hospital, clinic, petrol station, old-age home or nursing home, or animal welfare organisation or institution.

Any dealer selling fireworks must be in possession of a valid licence issued by the chief inspector of the Department of Explosives.

Using fireworks to frighten animals is against the law.

According to the Explosives Act, the period in which the lighting of fireworks is allowed is from 7 pm to 10 pm.

Samantha Hart, who lives in the Southgate area, said some of her neighbours had started setting off fireworks ahead of the designated Diwali time.

“We are aware of the bylaws set by the municipality and we always make preparations to protect our pets for the time allocated to fireworks, but it becomes very inconvenient when people start setting off their fireworks four days before the specified time,” she said.

Hart said residents also do not know where to report unauthorised setting off of fireworks. “There might be bylaws in place but there is certainly no one to enforce them,” said Hart.

Mafumbatha said anyone who fails to comply with these bylaws is guilty of an offence and is liable to a fine or imprisonment.

Vida said people can report transgressions immediately to the nearest police station.

“The SPCA will have additional staff on standby during this period to deal with any animal and firework-related problems,” she said.

Pietermaritzburg police spokesperson Sergeant Mthokozisi Ngobese said the police had no problem with the setting off of fireworks before 10 pm.

“Those who are reported to set off fireworks beyond 10 pm can be arrested and charged with disturbance,” he said.

Ngobese also urged people not to use fireworks to scare or harm people and animals.


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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