Graffiti Unit on a (paint) roll

16 Oct 2022 in Where We Govern

The unit, situated within Law Enforcement, cleans illegal graffiti on a daily basis throughout the metropole. Most of the cleaning operations take place at City owned buildings that have been vandalised by graffiti.

In the first nine months of this year, members of the unit removed 18 356 square meters of illegal graffiti in the metropole – 80% of it from City-owned properties.

In terms of the Graffiti by-law, graffiti constitutes any one of, or a combination of, any inscription, word, figure other than a figure indicating a street number, letter, sign, symbol, sketch, picture, drawing, mural or design that is applied to any natural surface or man-made surface on any property and which is visible to a person from a public place.

The Graffiti by-law further states that the owner or occupier of a property has the responsibility to ensure that the property remains free of illegal  graffiti on any wall, fence, building, or structure.

The Graffiti Unit is working closely with various Neighbourhood Watches and other enforcement agencies to apprehend suspects that vandalise City of Cape Town property.

Complaints received by the unit are investigated and recorded in a register, with each case file containing evidence such as photographs and statements by complainants.

Anyone caught in the act of defacing property will be fined R1500 on the first offence together with a compliance notice to have the graffiti removed at their expense.

If there is a case opened for vandalism and an offender is caught in the act, then the suspect can be arrested. If a complainant  has video footage or photos of an offender in the act and is willing to provide a statement then the offender can be prosecuted.

Property owners whose buildings have been targeted, are served with a notice to have the graffiti removed within a certain period. Non-compliance will lead to a fine being issued, or the City removing the graffiti at the cost of the owner.

‘Unsanctioned graffiti, and particularly gang insignia or other anti-social sentiments that end up on walls are an eyesore that bring down the tone of an area. Our Graffiti Unit has been hard at work for years, cleaning up after people who have scant regard for the property of others. But we want to emphasise that there is a space for this type of artistic expression, provided the artists or property owners go through the right channels,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, Alderman JP Smith.

Apart from enforcing the Graffiti by-law and cleaning illegal works, the unit also oversees the process where a formal application for mural art is received, by doing site inspections of the locations where the proposed mural will be situated, and who the affected parties and property owners will be.

A report is then submitted to the City’s Arts and Culture branch, which is responsible for facilitating applications.

For detail with regards to the enforcement of illegal graffiti visit the relevant By-law:

Residents are reminded to report any illegal graffiti  activity by contacting  021 480 7700 from a cellphone or 107 from a landline.