Pretoria - Several traffic signs in and around the Pretoria CBD and the densely populated Sunnyside area have been "colonised" by business owners plastering advertisements on them.

We've all seen them before.. Adverts for penis enlargement creams, vagina tightening creams and skin lighteners to rooms to rent. Want to get back your lost lover? No problem!

At the corner of Leyds and Rissik streets in Sunnyside, on the eastern side of Pretoria CBD, what was once a direction sign to the nearby Sunnyside police station is now a congested notice board for flat owners seeking tenants, and vice versa.

Nearby, a road sign warning motorists to be on the lookout for pupils of the Sunnyside Primary School have been invaded by entrepreneurs advertising “abortion services” and penis enlargement creams and pills.

Threats of arrest

Tshwane Metro Police spokesperson Senior Superintendent Isaac Mahamba warned those plastering adverts on traffic signs that they face arrest.

“It is a criminal offence to destroy any road traffic sign. If found, you will be arrested and dealt with according to the law. Charges that you might face are damage to property,” Mahamba said.

“We urge members of the public to refrain from committing such crimes and again they should report such incidents to the nearest (South African Police Service) SAPS or at the Tshwane Metro Police Department.”

Police said road signs, particularly those directing members of the public to a police station, were not just on the streets to beautify them.

“Police wish to caution members of the public against defacing signboards meant to direct victims of crime to nearby police stations, or anyone needing the assistance of the South African Police Service,” said Gauteng police spokesperson Brigadier Mathapelo Peters.

“For instance, a victim of a hijacking or robbery might have been robbed of their cellphone as well. Their only option at the time would therefore be to go to report at the nearest police station."

One community member in Sunnyside, who declined to be named, said police were folding their hands.

“The posters advertising all the insane things like tightening vaginas and bringing back a lost lover are not out on the traffic signs at midnight," the man said.

“The advertisers even leave their phone numbers. How difficult is it for police to catch such people? The police must act,” he added.

“The posters are glued there by criminals who have taken over this Sunnyside area. It used to be a cosy place to stay in. These days police will do nothing.” 

 African News Agency (ANA)