The eThekwini Municipality says a massive billboard overlooking the N2 highway is a road safety hazard and it has taken its fight to the courts to have it torn down, notes a report in The Mercury. ‘The distracting effects of advertising create a hazard,’ the municipality’s chief legal adviser, Clement Xulu, said in papers filed in the KZN High Court (Durban).

‘The portion of the N2 from which the sign is visible is an unusually complex and dangerous traffic area,’ he said. Xulu described the billboard as ‘a substantial structure that literally towers over adjacent buildings (and) is several storeys high’. Xulu added that, as per the municipality’s by-laws, no one can erect an advertisement or sign, visible from a public place, without the written permission of the city engineer, and advertisements or signs that interfere with or might cause a danger to traffic are prohibited. He said the billboard was originally erected without the municipality’s permission. Two years ago, a ‘signage application’ was submitted to the municipality but it was refused.

The agency, Ad Outpost, however, is not taking the litigation lying down and plans to challenge the constitutionality of the by-laws it stands accused of flouting.

In its court papers, it said the grounds for such a challenge included that the by-laws regulate the contents of advertisements, thereby infringing upon commercial freedom of speech. ‘Insofar as the by-laws do not regulate contents, it is a duplication of the National Building Regulations Act and has been superseded by the said Act and renders the by-laws invalid in terms of the said Act.’ The matter came before Judge Mokgere Masipa last week and was adjourned to October.

Full report in The Mercury (subscription needed)