J9 Foundation Takes Swift Action to Prevent Balloon Release

13 February 2017

On Thursday the 9th of February we urgently wrote to the J9 Foundation after being alerted to various reports of plans for balloon releases in the former Springbok, Joost van der Westhuizen​'s, honour.

We were delighted by their swift response in urging supporters to honour the great man's legacy in a less environmentally-destructive and illegal way. 

We offer his friends and family our deepest condolences at this tragic time.

Thank you to the J9 Foundation for being a wonderful example in taking decisive action to shut down balloon releases - we hope that many others will follow in their footsteps.

Below is the content of the letter, which can be adapted for your use in helping to prevent releases elsewhere:

"Good Day xxxx

Firstly, my condolences to you and the rest of the Foundation on the loss of Joost. He is truly a South African icon and will be missed.
I have been alerted to a number of posts on Facebook calling for balloon releases in memory of Joost tomorrow at 13h00.  Balloon releases are not only illegal, but pose a major threat to the environment and wildlife.  Given the loss you have suffered, I do not want to cause any further trauma by sending you pictures of what can happen when balloons reach the environment, particularly the ocean, but a google search will render many horrific images.
The call for balloon releases has been shared far and wide on Facebook, so it is not possible to contact all individuals and to appeal to their good senses.  Instead, I ask for your urgent action to publicly condemn the proposed balloon releases, and to request that the public remember and honour Joost in less harmful and more meaningful ways.
One of the ways in which the National Environmental Management Act, 107 of 1998 (NEMA) gives effect to the environmental right in section 24 of the Constitution  is by imposing a duty of care on every person to take reasonable measures to avoid causing significant pollution or degradation of the environment (NEMA section 28).  The release of a large number of balloons simultaneously is likely to  result in significant harm to the environment by endangering animals in both terrestrial and aquatic habitats.  It will also deposit litter across  the landscape in contravention of the National Environmental Management: Waste Act (section 27(2)) and municipal bylaws.
A person who intentionally or negligently fails to comply with the NEMA duty of care is liable upon conviction to a maximum fine of R10 million or 10 years imprisonment or both.  In addition to any penalty imposed under NEMA, any person  who litters, or allows a person under his or her control to litter, is liable to a maximum fine of R5 million  or 5 years imprisonment, or both,  under the Waste Act. 
I look forward to your urgent consideration of the matter, and I trust that the Foundation will stand up for the environment tomorrow."

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