Kids up to Guy Fawkes mischief in Cape Town as SPCA prepare for rogue fireworks

Children smear themselves with paint as Guy Fawkes has become an annual occurrence in Cape Town.  (Jonathan Lestrade, Die Son)
Children smear themselves with paint as Guy Fawkes has become an annual occurrence in Cape Town. (Jonathan Lestrade, Die Son)

Youth in and around Cape Town got up to mischief for Guy Fawkes Day on Tuesday as the SPCA prepared itself for people to discharge fireworks despite no official sites being allocated, effectively banning it.

Cape Town law enforcement spokesperson Wayne Dyson said the antics started around 10:00, when reports came in of groups of children getting up to no good in Tafelsig and surrounding areas.

They were running around and intimidating people with paint, sticks and shoe polish.

Dyson said groups later started stoning buses and smearing vehicles with shoe polish and paint.

In Lavender Hill and Seawinds, youngsters also ran around with paint and shoe polish, forming human chains to prevent people from entering their homes.

A law enforcement vehicle was also stoned.

"The youngsters flee the minute they see our officers and so far no arrests have been," Dyson said.

Western Cape Education MEC Debbie Schäfer said the department received reports every year of pupils behaving irresponsibly on this 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 added.

Increased absenteeism at certain schools was noticed during this period because pupils chose to take part in these activities, while others did not attend school because they were scared of being targeted.

Department spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said poor attendance was reported in Ravensmead, Mitchells Plain (Woodlands area), Lavender Hill and Capricorn.

She added there had thankfully not been any reports of disruption to matric examinations.

"Learners with paint have been reportedly waiting outside a number of schools to target learners when they are dismissed. Schools have monitored access control and had contacted the SAPS who have assisted with patrols in the area," Hammond said.

Schäfer said parents should ensure they kept an eye on their children and checked their school bags for fireworks or other materials such as paint.

The City of Cape Town has not designated any fireworks sites for Guy Fawkes this year.

Despite this, the Cape of Good Hope SPCA said it was preparing for Guy Fawkes and the aftermath of animals that may need its assistance in the days and weeks to come.

"Although no dedicated sites have been allocated by the City of Cape Town, we anticipate that many people will still choose to discharge fireworks across the Cape Metropole including residential areas," it said.

"We appeal to pet owners to please keep their pets indoors where they can remain safe from harm. It is advisable to try and stay home with your pets to minimise any stress from the fireworks. If you can, try to set up a calm, quiet space with the curtains drawn to keep the environment peaceful."

Pets should have a micro-chop and/or collar with an ID disc in case they got lost.

Any discharging of fireworks can be reported to law enforcement on 021 596 1999.

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