What you need to know about fireworks and the law

Light it up… Fireworks are prohibited in certain circumstances unless authorised.
Light it up… Fireworks are prohibited in certain circumstances unless authorised.

According to the City of Johannesburg bylaws, the use of fireworks is prohibited in certain circumstances unless authorised. The display of fireworks should be authorised by the city council at least 14 days before the date of the proposed event.

If the municipality decides to approve an application to present a fireworks display, it must provide the applicant with written confirmation of its decision and any conditions imposed to safeguard persons and property.

No person may deal in fireworks unless that person holds the required fireworks licence in terms of the Explosives Act. Fireworks are exceptionally powerful, can injure people and animals, and can damage property. They can burn at intense heat and explode violently.

While reported injuries cut across the age spectrum, children are particularly at risk due to unsafe handling of fireworks. The danger of fireworks is that they may shoot off dangerously in different directions, hitting people and/or causing fires around homes. Always put safety first when using fireworks.

Requirements for wholesalers, resellers and users:

Wholesalers and resellers must register at the police stations’ explosives unit and with the City of Johannesburg. Fireworks must be stored in steel lockers where the storage limit for wholesalers is 1 000kg and 500kg for resellers. Signs indicating a fireworks dealer must be displayed outside. There must be appropriate fire extinguishers on the premises. Resellers may not sell fireworks to any person under age 16.

No person under age 16 must use explosives without adult supervision. Fireworks must not be used inside any building, on agricultural holdings, in public places, schools, old age homes, hospitals, where animals are present, or within 500m of explosives (factory, storage) or petrol depots or stations. Users must take care to use fireworks in accordance with manufacturers’ instructions.

Fireworks may only be used during the following designated times:

Guy Fawkes (5 November) from 7pm to 10pm

Christmas Eve (24 December) from 7pm to 10pm

Day of Goodwill (26 December) from 7pm to 10pm

New Year’s Eve (31 December) from 11pm to 1am

New Year’s Day (1 January) from 7pm to 10pm

Human Rights Day (21 March) from 7pm to 10pm

Freedom Day (27 April) from 7pm to 10pm

Lag B’Omer from 7pm to 10pm

Chinese New Year from 7pm to 10pm

Hindu New Year from 7pm to 11pm

Diwali from 7pm to 11pm.

Offences and penalties for breaking the fireworks bylaws:

Permitting a minor to light fireworks: R1 500.

Failing to obtain permission for fireworks display: R1 500.

Lighting/igniting fireworks at a place where animals are present: R1 000.

Lighting/igniting fireworks at any day or time unless the ones stated above: R500.

Failing to comply with terms and conditions of fireworks display: R1 500.

Failing to ensure that fireworks display is presented only on suitable premises designated by the city council and under the supervision and control of a designated official: R1 500.

Failing to ensure that the fireworks licence in terms of the Explosives Act and a written authority of the executive head is in hand when dealing with fireworks: R1 500.

Failing to ensure that a written authority to deal in fireworks from the executive head is not contravened: R1 500.

Details: Metro police 011 375 5911; Joburg Connect 0860 562 874.

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