City calls overtime on Overbeek ad

CARL COLLISON

The controversy caused as a result of the Zuma Must Fall billboard being erected could see little falling other than the structure on which the contentious banner was displayed.

The banner, erected by Independent Outdoor Media, on behalf of an as-yet-unidentified group on Friday January 15, has caused a stir in both social and traditional media and was torn down by members of the African National Congress on Saturday January 16.

Despite eventually being re-placed by a South African flag a few days later, the City of Cape Town is determined to have the structure, on Kloof Street’s Overbeek apartment block removed.

Priya Reddy, the City’s spokesperson, says: “The City maintains that the sign structure is unauthorised and in contravention of the Outdoor Advertising and Signage By-Law, 2001, regardless of what is displayed on it. It must therefore be removed.”

Speaking to the CapeTowner, residents and business-owners alike were in agreement that there had, prior to the controversial banner being erected, been no problems with the structure.

Axel Zander, owner of Downhill Adventures, located on the ground floor of the apartment block, said: “The structure has been here for at least 10 years and we have never had a problem with it.”

Nthabi Maketha, who works as a waitress at one of the nearby restaurants, adds: “It seems silly to remove it, because it has been there for years – especially if it is only because of what the words on one poster said.”

One of the apartment’s residents, who asked to speak under condition of anonymity, said: “I have been living here for four years now and there has never been a problem with the ads on the building. It has never been any inconvenience. Is it only now, because that poster said you know what about you know who that there is an issue?”

Correcting this perception, Ms Reddy adds: “It is factually incorrect to state that the City is only now taking action. Notices were served in the past by the City and municipal court proceedings have previously been instituted. An Admission of Guilt to this contravention is on record following a 2011 prosecution by the City. The matter was again before the courts in 2015, which was withdrawn by the prosecutor as the vinyl graphic was taken down just before the court appearance date, and remains a continuing offence.”

Ms Reddy added: “Regardless of whether there have been complaints or not in the past, the sign structure remained in contravention of the by-law and hence the City previously took action.”

As to the course of action, the City was considering taking, Ms Reddy says: “A compliance notice was served on the Overbeek Body Corporate requiring the removal of the unauthorised sign structure by close of business, Friday January 22. This was not done and the City will now consider its options, including prosecution of the Overbeek Body Corporate jointly and/or separately for failing to remove the unauthorised sign structure.”

Ms Reddy added: “In relation to Independent Outdoor Media, the City is in the process of having the case re-instated as the sign structure was not removed. This matter was withdrawn by the prosecutor in September 2015. The docket is with the prosecutors for the vetting of charges.

“With regards to the Overbeek Body Corporate, we are currently following our standard post notice steps. The City is assessing its position and further decisions will be made shortly.”

Although Ms Reddy could not provide an exact date by which decision in this regard would be taken, one thing is clear: as far as the City is concerned, this structure must fall.

* Numerous attempts to secure comment from Independent Outdoor Media failed.

However, Independent Outdoor Media chief executive Brett Dyssel said in a letter to the Cape Times on Monday:

“I write to clarify certain statements made by the City of late.

“The signage structure (at the top of Long Street) was approved in terms of a building plan #21678 on November 6, 2000. This signage frame has remained in situ and undisturbed for over 15 years now, and to date has been without issue nor incident. The sign is maintained regularly, where IOM carries a R25 million public liability too.

“The City of Cape Town does not regulate the rights of South African citizens to display our national flag, and we respectfully submit that any attempt by any party to remove, public or private, would not only be unconstitutional, it could possibly be viewed as somewhat unpatriotic too.”