From New Year’s Eve to Guy Fawkes Day, for many, a celebration is incomplete without a good firework display. But before lighting up those crackers, it’s important to remember that it’s not just a free-for-all, and there are laws the regulate the use of fireworks in South Africa. Not complying with the rules could result in a hefty fine or time behind bars.

It is worth noting that there are only a few specific days on which the public may set off fireworks (these include Diwali, New Year’s Eve and, of course, Guys Fawkes). The use of fireworks in South Africa is regulated by by-laws under the Explosives Act, 1956. Before we get into the general dos and don’ts, always check in with your local authorities to see if there aren’t specific by-laws that apply to your particular town or city.

9 Important Things to Know About Fireworks Laws in South Africa

  1. Fireworks may not be set off in any public place. This includes in parks, on the pavement or the streets. Do note, shopping malls, restaurants, liquor stores and clothing retailers are also off-limits.
  2. Fireworks may not be sold by street vendors, hawkers or at any informal open-air facilities.
  3. Anyone who wishes to sell fireworks must have a valid licence, which is issued by the chief inspector of the Department of Explosives.
  4. It is illegal to detonate fireworks within 200 metres of any hospital, clinic, petrol station, old-age home, nursing home, or animal welfare organisation or institution.
  5. No one under the age of 16 is allowed to purchase or set off fireworks.
  6. It is unlawful for any person to point or direct a firework at any other person, animal, building or motor vehicle.
  7. No person or organisation is allowed to present a fireworks display unless formally authorised to do so by the Council (at least 14 days’ notice). Authorisation is also required from the Civil Aviation Authority and the Chief Inspector of Explosives. What’s more, a pyrotechnician and SA Police Services explosives expert must be present at all times.
  8. Fireworks may only be set off in designated areas between 7 pm and 10 pm on Guy Fawkes.
  9. Failure to comply with any of the above could result in a hefty fine or even jail time.

Should you become aware of anyone not complying with the law, you can call the police and report them. And, if you are setting off fireworks, remember to be considerate and responsible.