Open letter to the Sunday Tribune
Regarding the article in the Tribune Herald today where I was incorrectly quoted:
Your article is as follows:
Commentary in red is correcting information which was published.
Petition to ban fireworks
Clayton Moodley and Nabeelah Shaikh
More than a week after Hindus worldwide observed Diwali, tensions over the use of fireworks continue to simmer in Durban Suburbs and on social media platforms.
Durbanites Andrea Ording-Jespersen and Di Kendall started an online drive – Petitioning Fireworks eThekwini – hoping to ban fireworks from the city. *1. Petitioning Fireworks eThekwini is NOT an ONLINE petition as I clearly explained that we were encouraging people in the community to PRINT and collect signatures on HAND WRITTEN petition forms. I also stated that we had petitions at various vet practices and we had hoped to have more practices on the list for people to pop in and sign petitions. We also have petitions at stores and are hoping that more business people will step forward and assist.
Kendall said they aimed to gain as many signatures of support as possible to hand to city authorities and police.
More than 2500 people have signed up since the page was created last week. *2 Petitioning Fireworks eThekwini Facebook GROUP is the publicity engine for the HAND WRITTEN PETITION.
Kendall said big bangs during Diwali celebrations had stirred deep concern for the well being of animals, the elderly and babies. *3 It was not big bangs during Diwali that sparked our petition, It was in FACT noting the danger and nuisance of fireworks at ALL EVENTS.
The anti-fireworks activists are hoping their petition will get as much support as a similar campaign in CapeTown, which got 80 000 signatures. *4 We hope to follow in the footsteps of a SUCCESSFUL HAND WRITTEN FIREWORKS PETITION which was implemented in Somerset West Strand and Gordons Bay.
According to Ording-Jespersen and Kendall, a fireworks ban will help all those in harms way.
But some Durban organisations are not excited about the petition.
Jessica Singh of Pawfect Nation said she did not think online petitions would work. *5 As also stated in my interview, online petitions are not accepted by government and we therefore chose to start a HAND WRITTEN PETITION inspired by BAN ANIMAL TRADING SOUTH AFRICA.
She said a ban would only be effective if passed in parliament.
Ashwin Trikamjee of the SA Hindu Maha Sabha said: “I do not agree with the petition and would be surprised if it succeeded.
“A ban would be an extreme step, impinging on cultural practices. However one must not ignore the fact that fireworks also feature at major events in the world and in South African sporting events in particular.
“Our constitution protects all cultures”
It would be greatly appreciated if the correct information regarding this petition was published.
We as Petitioning Fireworks eThekwini not only see fireworks as a nuisance but also as light pollution, noise pollution, air pollution, debris and litter.
I would like it clearly noted that we are standing as a positive front to work together with our community to have peaceful and injury free events and celebrations in the future.
We feel that respect should be awarded especially to those who are less fortunate; those with disabilities and health issues; the elderly; children and animals. It is unfair to focus on frivolous and disrespectful behaviour when so many people and animals are adversely affected.
We are appealing to the community to write testimonials regarding their fireworks experiences, whether they be animal welfare personnel or those concerned with autism, Asperger’s, epilepsy, asthma and so forth…
- A danger to children
* Children are 11 times more likely to be severely injured by fireworks
* Mothers of young babies and toddlers note that their children’s sleep is disrupted.
* Children with autism are affected
“is an environmental stimulus of concern for a range of individuals experiencing disability including; Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD – including Asperger’s syndrome), hearing impairment, Down syndrome and a range of disabilities involving auditory function, development and language delay. A cohort of the gifted is also known to experience similar aberrant responses to noise as those experiencing ASD”  “In a survey conducted among general teaching staff and specialist staff of young children , a number of primary and secondary effects were identified as a response to noise; these included:
- High levels of distress
- Aggravation of behavior
- Putting hands over ears
- Self-stimulating behaviors such as hand flapping or rocking
- Screaming or groaning to try and block out the sound
- Fleeing the area and refusing to go back
- Epileptic seizure in an individual case Secondary adverse effects of noise resulted in: • Learning impairment
- Distraction from learning and other tasks
- Compromised communication with other children and with the teacher”
- Animals are affected by the “big bangs”
* First of all their hearing is effected: “Human ear frequencies ranging between 20 Hz (lowest pitch) and 20,000 Hz (highest pitch). Below 20 Hz (infrasounds), some species as the mole or the elephant are still hearing (they can for instance hear some vibrations from earthquakes). Similarly, lot of mammalian species can hear over 20,000 Hz (ultrasounds). Thus, cats and dogs hear up to 40,000 Hz, and dolphins or bats hear up to 160,000 Hz !” 
* The loud bangs causes disorientation which is resultant in a large amount of lost animals putting extra unneeded pressure on animal rescues such as the SPCA.
* The loud bangs causes fear and animals try to escape from what they gauge to be danger and find themselves injured putting extra unneeded pressure on veterinary practices and rescues such as the SPCA.
* Fireworks have been proven to be detrimental to wildlife. After fireworks, wildlife rehabilitators experience an increase in orphaned birds, squirrels, and other small mammals.
* Most birds fly away in fright and nesting mothers endanger the well-being of nestlings when they sometimes cannot find their own nest upon return. Birds are also prone to breaking their necks by flying into buildings
- * Fireworks explosions can cause tinnitus and even deafness
* Epileptics can experience seizures
* People who suffer from asthma experience discomfort
- Firecrackers (25%), rockets (21%), and sparklers (11%) accounted for most of the injuries seen in emergency departments
- With the current drought in South Africa Fireworks can more than ever be seen as a fire hazard.
- Fireworks does damage to property.
- McLaren S. Noise in early childhood education centres – the effects on the children and their teachers [PhD Thesis]. Wellington: Massey University. 2008.
In hope of peaceful and injury free events and celebrations in the future
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