Fireworks and the Law in South Africa
Fireworks are a common method to celebrate a new year, Diwali and less known celebrations such as guy fawkes day. Fireworks displays can be beautiful to look at, however, there are certain regulations when it comes to the handling of fireworks.
The Explosives Act
Fireworks in South Africa are controlled in terms of the Explosives Act 15 of 2003 (Explosives Act). There are also specific by-laws that regulate the use or exploding of fireworks. Firework dealers need to be licensed in terms of the Explosives Act. Only individuals in possession of valid licences may deal in the sale of fireworks.
eThekwini Municipality takes the Explosives Act very seriously. There are strict Municipal Bylaws when it comes to the use of fireworks. The unlawful use fireworks could see residents face fines of up to R10,000 (Ten Thousand Rands). The municipal bylaw allows for fireworks to be set off from 11.45pm on December 31 until 00.15am in the new year. There are conditions that residents need to adhere to. Low-hazard fireworks, such as fountains, lawn lights and sparkles, can be lit in private homes. Fireworks such as air bombs, supersonic bangs, sound shells, fountain whistles and screeches are prohibited as they cause a disturbance and are a nuisance to neighbours and pets.
Minors and handling fireworks
Minors are prohibited from handling explosives and this includes certain types of fireworks. Municipal bylaws also state that children under 16 years of age to be properly supervised by an adult when letting off fireworks.
Areas where fireworks should not be exploded
It is unlawful for any person to use or explode any firework within 500 metres of any building or any public thoroughfare. It is important to only buy legal fireworks and always check expiry dates on the fireworks. Fireworks should be detonated away from hospitals, clinics, old age/nursing homes, animal welfare organisations and petrol stations. Fireworks should not be pointed towards any person, as this is dangerous. Residents are also reminded that fireworks cannot be recycled and therefore they need to be disposed of appropriately, in black bin bags.