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As South Africa gears up for its next general election on 29 May, the issue of illegally placed election posters, such as those recently observed in Louis Trichardt, underscores the ongoing challenge of adherence to legal regulations.

Road traffic signs no place for political posters!

Date: 28 March 2024 By: Andries van Zyl

As election time approaches, the familiar poster war has recommenced. Despite previous reports by the newspaper on this issue, some political parties continue to place their election posters on road traffic signs illegally. This behaviour was observed once more in Louis Trichardt, where a political party adorned traffic signs with its election posters, notably at the Stubbs Street/N1 traffic circle.

In response to these actions, the South African National Road Agency (SANRAL) was queried about their awareness of the practice. Mr Vusi Mona, SANRAL’s general manager of communications, confirmed that the issue persists as a challenge for the agency.

The placement of posters, including those for elections, is governed by the National Roads Agency Act, Act 7 of 1998, and its regulations. Under this Act, SANRAL has the authority to regulate posters, which are defined as placards announcing the candidature of any individual nominated for election to parliament, local government, or any similar body. According to Regulation 24 concerning outdoor advertising, such posters may only be displayed in urban areas under partial or minimum control. Prior written approval from the relevant municipality is required for the erection of any sidewalk poster or notice. Importantly, the regulation stipulates that posters may only be affixed to electric light standards or other structures specifically provided for this purpose. They must not be attached to road traffic signs, signals, walls, columns, electric boxes, trees, or bridges. Furthermore, during election or referendum campaigns, no more than three posters per post or standard are permitted. These election posters may not be displayed before the official gazetting of the election date and must be removed within 14 days post-election. Displaying posters on road reserve boundaries or freeways is also prohibited.

Despite the clear regulations, questions arise regarding potential exceptions. Mr Mona clarified that only the Minister of Transport could relax these regulations, and to date, SANRAL has not been notified of any such relaxation.

Inquiries were made to Mr Louis Bobodi, spokesperson for Makhado Municipality, regarding whether permission was granted to any political party to erect or affix their posters on road traffic signs within the town, including at three intersections with the N1. Questions also covered whether the offending political party had sought permission for the erection of election posters in town and which political parties had applied for such permission to date.

Despite these queries being sent to Mr Bobodi on 15 March and repeated requests for a response, no reply was forthcoming at the time of our going to press.

The posters at the Stubbs Street/N1 traffic circle have since been removed, presumably by SANRAL, as Mr Mona indicated that their routine road maintenance unit would be notified. When asked about potential fines for offenders, Mr Mona stated that SANRAL does not issue fines; only a court of law can impose a fine for offences under Act 7 of 1998 Section 50 (5), which can result in a term of imprisonment of up to six months or a fine. Subsection 1 of Section 50 states that no person may:

1. Display an advertisement on a national road, or permit it to be displayed in such a manner.

2. Display any advertisement outside an urban area, if it is visible from a national road, or permit any advertisement, which is visible in this way, to be displayed.

3. Display any advertisement that is visible from a national road in an urban area, on any land adjoining the national road or on land separated from the national road by a street, or permit it to be displayed.

 

 
 
 

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Andries van Zyl

Andries joined the Zoutpansberger and Limpopo Mirror in April 1993 as a darkroom assistant. Within a couple of months he moved over to the production side of the newspaper and eventually doubled as a reporter. In 1995 he left the newspaper group and travelled overseas for a couple of months. In 1996, Andries rejoined the Zoutpansberger as a reporter. In August 2002, he was appointed as News Editor of the Zoutpansberger, a position he holds until today.

 
 

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