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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 December, 2003, 13:16 GMT
New Year's flying fridges warning
Police often raid the notorious Hillbrow neighbourhood
South African police will crack down hard on anybody throwing old fridges from high-rise buildings during the New Year's holiday, they say.

Police and soldiers are on patrol in Johannesburg's notorious Hillbrow suburb, famous for the practice.

Throwing heavy objects from balconies and firing guns have become something of a bad "New Year's institution," said police Inspector Kriben Naidoo.

Revellers have been killed in the past after being hit by stray bullets.

It is not clear why Hillbrow residents have taken to seeing in the New Year by throwing objects such as fridges, microwave ovens, beds, rubbish bins and condoms out of their windows.

Some also aim their New Year fireworks horizontally, so they go from one high-rise apartment into another.

Police wear helmets and bullet-proof vests when on duty on New Year's Eve, reports AFP news agency.

Emergency centre

"We have given out thousands of pamphlets pleading with people not to throw objects, including things like refrigerators, from their balconies, as well as asking people not to fire celebratory shots in the air," said Inspector Naidoo.

He said armoured vehicles would be stationed throughout Hillbrow and the police would raid any buildings where there were problems.

A private medical services spokesperson said doctors and paramedics would be deployed in Hillbrow and an emergency centre had been set up at a fire station to deal with injuries.

"We will have at least four doctors and more than 20 medical personnel working around the clock in a combined effort with provincial health authorities," said Mandy Toubkin.

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