Mass balloon releases are illegal in South Africa05 February 2016
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.