Wind blows out fireworks

Protesters clung to their anti-fireworks placards at Marine circle.

Gale force winds brought Guy Fawkes day to a premature end at the Table View beachfront on Sunday November 5.

Tourism Centre in Athens Road was once again approved as a fireworks venue by the City of Cape Town despite widespread opposition from Table View residents.

Last year protesters against the use of fireworks lined the pavement of Marine Circle, waving anti-fireworks placards at passing motorists (“Protesters want to ‘ban the bang’”, Tabletalk, November 9 2016).

On Sunday fireworks enthusiasts had a hard time lighting up as gale force winds killed many fireworks before they could become airborne. However, the wind was not able to deter spectators flocking to the beach to view the fireworks.

According to the City of Cape Town there were around 1 000 people at the beachfront with five City services including law enforcement, traffic services, Metro police, disaster risk management and fire and rescue.

Temporary plastic sheeting was put up to prevent people from stepping onto the sand dunes and people were also restricted to a small section of the beach from which to light the fireworks. But by 8.15 pm the fire marshal cancelled the fireworks with immediate effect due to gale force winds.

“The site at Table View was cleared at 8.15pm for safety reasons. There were, however, still reports of people on the beach at around 10pm and the area was monitored throughout,” said JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security; and social services.

National chairperson of the animal rights organisation Beauty without Cruelty, Toni Brockhoven, welcomed the windy weather even though it made protesting with placards difficult.

Protesters once again stood at Marine Circle with their anti-fireworks placards in hand. She said there was no justification for the City approving fireworks in Cape Town again especially in light of the drought.

“Besides domestic animals, what about the strays and feral animals? Wildlife is affected too. Birds become disorientated. Others fly out to sea and get lost,” said Ms Brockhoven.

Besides the trauma, Ms Brockhoven also pointed out the toxic dangers of fireworks. “Animals are eating spent fireworks and they die of poisoning,” she said. She listed barium, cadmium and arsenic as some of the harmful chemicals found in fireworks.

This year the non-profit organisation Anonymous for the Voiceless joined the protesters. The animal rights organisation stands against animal exploitation in all regards, including food, clothing and entertainment.

About 10 Anonymous for the Voiceless volunteers gathered on the beachfront wearing Guy Fawkes masks. Forming a “cube of truth” some volunteers stood in a square holding laptops, playing local standard-practice footage of what “food” animals go through in abattoirs and battery cages among other places. The rest of the volunteers spoke to people who stopped to watch the gory footage, informing bystanders why it was better to switch to a vegan lifestyle.

Table View resident Agi Orfanos was not happy with the way people were restricted at the event. “The worst is that they channelled both those letting off fireworks and spectators into a small beach area, closing all the other beaches. Similarly at the parking areas there was so much restriction it forced everyone into a confined area, making it difficult to view anything. It was largely the neighbourhood watch that took over and where the police allowed us to stand the neighbourhood watch forced everyone further and further away knowing they wouldn’t be able to view much as the view was restricted by the dunes. It was well orchestrated to make things as difficult as possible. When I showed a neighbourhood watch person how I had framed my photo to include Table Mountain and that I was there with others from very early in the correct side of the police ‘barriers’ they kept on squeezing people around. In the end the weather took control,” said Mr Orfanos.

Nicky Rheeder, councillor for Ward 107 responded to Mr Orfanos’ complaints, saying the entrances to the beach had been restricted to make it easier for Law Enforcement in their duties of searching bags, among other things.

“The people were also not allowed in the restricted Joint Operations Command space last year and were cleared out for everyone’s safety. If an emergency had occurred, the last thing we needed was to have this area full of spectators,” said Ms Rheeder.

She said the spectator area had been further restricted by the wind direction and speed. She thanked all volunteers who had assisted the City at the site, including the Table View Neighbourhood Watch, Parklands Neighbourhood Watch, One FM, SA Paramedics, SAPS and Disaster Risk Management and Law Enforcement volunteer members as well as all the City departments. “It’s a true team effort and we could never do it without them,” she said.

Vice-chairman of the Table View Ratepayers’ Association (TVRA), Mandy da Matta said: “We cannot afford the loss of a single house burning down or another person being hurt due to the reluctance of the City of Cape Town banning fireworks. We would’ve expected our municipality to take the same action as the George Municipality has done due to the drought and the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality has initiated a change in their City by-laws to ban fireworks. Why are we being followers in the City of Cape Town and not the leaders when we are supposed to be a world class city that is properly run?