The Umtentweni Ratepayers’ Forum has apologised to the Hindu community if any offense was taken as a result of statements and actions by the forum in connection with fireworks during the coming celebration of Diwali. Chairperson of the Umtentweni Ratepayers’ Forum Leila Edwards issued a statement on Monday afternoon after a controversy arose resulting from letters and reports in the local newspapers which caused friction between the Forum and the Hindu community.
Ms. Edwards’ statement reads as follows:
The Umtentweni Ratepayers Forum has noted the public outcry from certain members of the Hindu community, to the article in the press as well as the sign boards declaring Umtentweni a “Fireworks Free Zone”.
As the chairperson, I convened an urgent meeting on 18 October between the Umtentweni Conservancy, The Hindu Cultural Federation and the Umtentweni Ratepayers Forum. There was an honest open discussion and debate on the issue concerning the use and misuse of fireworks in Umtentweni.
At the meeting, I listened to input from the Chairperson of the Conservancy, Alex Skene, on the impact of the big bangs on the wildlife of the environmentally sensitive area of Umtentweni, as well as the input from the leaders of the Hindu Cultural Federation regarding the Diwali celebrations and the use of Fireworks.
The parties concluded the meeting with the following agreements:
The Umtentweni Ratepayers Forum regrets the public outcry, it was not our intention to offend any individual organisation or group within our Community. As Chairperson of The Umtentweni Ratepayers Forum, I would like to apologise to the Hindu Community for any offence taken.
We understand that Diwali is held over seven days, however, while the Umtentweni Ratepayers Forum respects the rights of every Hindu to celebrate this auspicious occasion, also noting, the concerns of the environmentalists, it was agreed with the leaders of the Hindu Cultural Federation that this year, on 2, 3 and 4 November 2013, fireworks can be discharged from sunset to 11pm.
We urge people not to use Big Bangs, which are illegal.
With the exception of Diwali, at no other time will the discharge of fireworks in Umtentweni be tolerated. The public is warned that this is a punishable offence by law.
I thank the Leadership of the Hindu Cultural Federation and the Chairperson of the Umtentweni Conservancy, for the valuable input and discussions at short notice.
In future we will have public meetings with all stakeholders.
Chairperson- Umtentweni Ratepayers Forum
Mobile 0823761853: E Mail [email protected]