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Popular building sign at the intersection of Long and Kloof streets declared unlawful

The dispute concerned two outdoor-advertising signs on two different façades of the Overbeek building at the intersection of Long and Kloof streets in the CBD. Picture: Henk Kruger/Cape Argus

The dispute concerned two outdoor-advertising signs on two different façades of the Overbeek building at the intersection of Long and Kloof streets in the CBD. Picture: Henk Kruger/Cape Argus

Published Jan 24, 2022

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Cape Town - The City of Cape Town has welcomed an order by the Western Cape High Court for the signage at the Overbeek building to be removed.

The matter involved the body corporate of the Overbeek building, Independent Outdoor Media (IOM), the City of Cape Town and others.

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The dispute concerned two outdoor-advertising signs on two different façades of the Overbeek building at the intersection of Long and Kloof streets in the CBD.

The court instructed IOM to “remove at its own cost the offending ‘Overbeek signs’ and any advertisements that they may support, within 15 court days from the date of the service of this order”.

The signs were also declared “unlawful”, as they are not approved under the Building Standards Act. Overbeek body corporate and the City sought an order from the court directing IOM to remove the signs as they were a “flagrant disregard” of by-laws.

In response, IOM sought for the by-laws to be struck down as void.

In March 2016, the City initiated court action against Overbeek and IOM to remove signage.

A billboard erected by IOM displaying the slogan “ZumaMustFall” sparked outrage among ANC members, who stormed the building to bring it down.

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The sign was later replaced with a South African flag; however the City persisted that it created visibility and safety issues.

The billboard erected by IOM displayed the letters “ZumaMustFall” and sparked outrage from ANC members, who stormed the building to bring the sign down. Picture: Michael Walker/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

According to the court, IOM is a company which handles the display and management of advertising signs and space on behalf of various clients, for monetary reward.

Following their contract with Overbeek to lease advertising space in 1999 and 2000, the by-law approval that came with the contract at the time had lapsed after a period of five years.

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However, IOM maintained that these authorisations had not lapsed, and remained valid in perpetuity.

The City’s case against IOM had stated that approvals for the advertising granted under the relevant by-law had lapsed due to the expiration of the contract, making the continued advertising on the façades on the building thereafter unlawful.

The court reiterated that, “the advertising and supporting structures on the building fall within the definitions of ‘signs and advertising structures’ as set out in the by-law and may not be displayed, erected or used without an approval from the second respondent (The City)”.

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Judge Derek Wille had agreed that IOM’s “disregard for the legal constraints applicable to public advertising was motivated by its appetite for the large revenues it generates from this unlawful conduct.

“The amount of advertising fees generated in connection with the advertising on this building, at one stage, amounted to about R345 000 per month,” the judge said.

Deputy Mayor Eddie Andrews said: “Outdoor signage can benefit our local economy, but it must be located at appropriate locations, and this is why the by-law guides the City when we assess applications.

“I encourage all to please comply with this by-law and to submit applications for outdoor signage to the City for approval prior to installation.”

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Cape Argus

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