From the news desk

Gusty Southeaster hampers Guy Fawkes

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Twenty-two injuries, 18 of them children, were reported during last night’s Guy Fawkes Day activities in the Mother City.  The City of Cape Town’s Safety and Security Directorate says last night’s gusting south easter winds caused havoc in some areas. The wind conditions resulted in the early closure of many of the 12 designated sites for the discharge of fireworks because of safety issues.  At the popular Maiden’s Cove, fire marshals closed the site as early as 7pm, while Table View was closed at 8pm.

“These closures meant an increase in the number of complaints from other beach areas and open spaces in close proximity, but also an increase in the number of people at the Strandfontein and Athlone sites, which turned out to be the busiest on the night,” said Mayco member for Safety and Security, JP Smith.

15 injuries were reported Strandfontein Pavilion, including a 10-year-old boy who sustained an eye injury and was transported to hospital for further treatment.   Another 10-year-old sustained a leg injury in Sarepta and was referred to his general practitioner for further treatment.

Smith said staff also confiscated a bakkie-load of illegal fireworks at Athlone stadium.

“Away from the designated sites, the City’s Public Emergency Communication Centre fielded 209 calls on the day that were specific to Guy Fawkes and the illegal discharge of fireworks. On the ground, City staff confiscated hundreds of units of fireworks and issued numerous fines for the illegal sale thereof. They further issued more than 100 verbal warnings about the illegal discharge of fireworks in residential areas and the use of paint socks,” he explained.

In Lavender Hill and surrounds, a security guard had to be hospitalised after he was attacked along Military Road by a gang of youths brandishing bricks in socks. He sustained injuries to his head and ear. Law Enforcement officers fired two rubber rounds to ward off the assailants.

Several other people, including two children, were also attacked by youth brandishing paint socks paint socks. In another incident, a man on his way home from work was attacked and robbed by three youngsters in Drury Road, Capricorn.

“This is but an example of the terror many communities endure on Guy Fawkes. Apart from the disturbance that fireworks cause, the behaviour of marauding gangs attacking innocent people is downright criminal. The constant sound of fireworks also masks the sound of gunshots, making it difficult for police to respond to real emergencies effectively,” said Smith.

“The City of Cape Town is already doing as much as any local authority can to minimise the use of fireworks. However, the upcoming review of the By-law relating to Streets, Public Places and Prevention of Noise Nuisances in the next year offers an opportunity to take a fresh legal and constitutional look at the City’s powers in this regard. Furthermore, we urge civil society to petition National Government for stronger legislation relating to the sale and use of fireworks by the general public.” VOC

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