SAPOA challenges City of Joburg draft outdoor advertising by-laws omissions


SAPOA is concerned over fundamental omissions in the City of Joburg’s proposed outdoor advertising by-laws. Upon considering a comparison of the initially proposed By-laws that were published in 2017 for public participation and comment and the new By-Laws that will come into effect at the end of May, although certain amendments were made, none of the fundamental submissions made by SAPOA and other important industry role players were included in the Report or proposed By-laws at the time of submission to Council for consideration and adoption.

According to SAPOA Chief Executive Officer, Neil Gopal, this by-law has a direct bearing on the legality and validity of the decision of the Council to adopt them for promulgation,” says Gopal.

The following submissions by SAPOA were not included in the Report, including:

  • The promulgation of the new By-laws will immediately and retrospectively criminalize hundreds of private property owners with unapproved advertising signs on their properties without affording the affected property owners the opportunity of arranging their affairs in such a manner as to ensure compliance with the new By-laws and legitimization of the affected advertising signs.
  • The City, as a commercial role-player in the outdoor advertising arena, is undoubtedly conflicted between its regulatory function and its commercial interests.
  • Because of the above and from a constitutional perspective, the regulatory control over the process should ideally be divested to an impartial decision-making body and not to any particular City official.
  • The enforcement measures, which are severe, can be imposed arbitrarily by the officials playing the role of investigative, prosecutorial, adjudicative, and sheriff’s functionaries. This is in contravention of the rule of law.

During a meeting held in August last year, an undertaking was made by the City to consider SAPOA’s submission, but this has not happened. If it did, the submissions and the reasons for rejection thereof would have been included in the Report.

SAPOA, through its attorneys, has sent a demand to the City on the following aspects:

  • An undertaking not to promulgate the new By-laws on any other date without informing SAPOA and in writing of anticipated promulgation.
  • A confirmation that the approval of the Minister of Trade and Industry has been obtained for promulgation of the new By-laws.
  • A confirmation that the submissions, specifically those of the entities affected will be reconsidered and included in the Report to be tabled and submitted to Council for reconsideration.

Should the demands not be favourably met, SAPOA will be approaching the High Court on an urgent basis for the appropriate interdictory relief.

New outdoor advertising by-laws which will hold companies criminally liable for illegal advertising, may be approved before the end of June.