Residents fed-up with Guy Fawkes frenzy

South Africa – Cape Town – 5 November 2020 – Girls ready to smear victims in Ravensmead. Every Guy Fawkes kids around the country smear each other with paint. Nobody really knows where the informal tradition originates from. Paint in socks, paint dipped in rags, nugget and many other items are used in these games. Picture Courtney Africa/African News Agency(ANA)

Two hundred and thirty eight calls on the illegal discharge of fireworks and 17 calls on the illegal sale of fireworks were recorded by the City of Cape Town’s Public Emergency Communication Centre last week, with the highest number of calls from Beacon Valley and Lentegeur.

Fireworks-related calls started increasing from 6pm, with a spike at 9pm, and only started abating at around 11pm, said Mayco member for safety and security, JP Smith.

Glenda Arendse, chairperson of Lentegeur Neighbourhood Watch, had to attend to a complaint about a fireworks device thrown into a neighbour’s yard.

They had to put the flame out before it reached the house, she said.

“Adults partake in firework activities with children. This should be banned in our communities,” said Ms Arendse.

Byron de Villiers, chairperson of Lentegeur Community Police Forum, said they had received a number of complaints but no reports of injuries.

“People should be held accountable and more could be done to highlight the dangers of fireworks if handled incorrectly.

Law enforcement and SAPS should clamp down harder on those who are selling the fireworks,” said Mr De Villiers.

He said parents are buying fireworks for their children.

Adam van Wyk, chairperson of the Mitchell’s Plain CPF Beacon Valley sub-forum, said no injuries have been reported to him or his team.

The fireworks are annoying, he said. One cannot tell if it is a gunshot or fireworks, he said.

He has also received complaints about children inserting paint into socks and chasing each other with it. The Guy Fawkes frenzy also affects the animals in the area, he said.

“The fireworks are bad for our community. However, if a designated area is set out for people to use for fireworks, this may help with less fireworks being used within the community. Children are intrigued by the fireworks,” he said.

There should be a total ban on fireworks, Mr De Villiers believes.

“Being a pet owner, I see what it does to my dogs in particular. I am against the use and the selling of fireworks. Harsher fines should be imposed,” he said..

A look at the Metro police incident log, combined with some of the photographs and videos that surfaced on social media, paint a very disturbing and heartbreaking picture, Mr De Villiers said.

There were numerous incidents of adults and elderly persons being chased, threatened and assaulted by mobs of youngsters, brandishing socks filled with paint, shoe polish, but also sharp objects intended to cause harm.

The incident log showed these mobs roaming around in Lentegeur, throwing firecrackers into the yards of residences, and at dogs.

“This is nothing short of barbaric, and I condemn the actions of these groups of children, but also the parents who are allowing their children to partake in these activities.

“It is an indictment on our society that this is allowed to happen year after year. And it is not a policing problem, this is a social issue that requires education and awareness, and frankly, better parenting,” said Mr Smith.