Municipality’s fight to get illegal billboards removed returns to court

2019-05-07 15:30
This is one of the illegal billboards that Msunduzi Municipality has been trying to get removed for 10 years. PHOTO: IAN CARBUTT

This is one of the illegal billboards that Msunduzi Municipality has been trying to get removed for 10 years. PHOTO: IAN CARBUTT

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Msunduzi Municipality has been trying to remove two illegal billboards that residents have complained about in the Town Bush area for 10 years.

It on Monday brought a second application to the Pietermaritzburg high court to order the companies responsible for the billboards to remove them. If they don’t, it wants the court to give it permission to remove them.

The billboards are at the intersection of Town Bush Road and Montgomery Drive, and Town Bush and McCarthy Avenue.

Erected in October 2008, the billboards are substantial structures, approximately 10 metres high.

The acting municipal manager, Neli Ngcobo, said in court papers that any removal of these structures would involve a complicated and expensive process. The billboards are close to privately owned buildings and busy streets.

“The removal would have to be conducted by professional experts to avoid potential damage or injury,” she said.

Ngcobo added that since the billboards are solidly fixed to the ground, the surface land will have to be reinstated after the structures are removed.

She said that ever since they were erected, the municipality has received complaints from ratepayers who are “affronted by these illegal unsightly structures”.

Ngcobo said the municipality obtained a court order in 2009 declaring the billboards illegal. Provision was also made for their removal.

“The court order has, to date, not been implemented and the two billboards remain where they were erected almost 10 years ago,” she said.

The order was granted against Zazise Communications and its two directors, Vuyo Mbuli, a television presenter who died in 2013, and Joseph Moyo. She said the municipality has grappled with practical difficulties implementing the order. She said negotiations had taken place between the municipality and Mbuli. When that failed Mbuli asked for time to remove the billboards.

After Mbuli’s death the company lost interest in the billboards and so did Moyo. She added that the estimated cost to remove the billboards was between R300 000 and R600 000 and the municipality did not have the money then.

In 2016, Kena Media Communications laid claim to the billboards, affixing its plaques to both. The municipality then issued the company with a removal notice. It replied saying the billboards were the lawful possession of Savita Mbuli, Vuyo’s widow, and no one could claim ownership of them.

In April 2017, the municipality sent Kena Media Communications and Mbuli a notice to remove the billboards, threatening court action if they did not. Kena Media undertook to assist to remove the billboards. Despite this, nothing has been done.

Ncgobo said the new order was needed because the municipality could not just go ahead and remove the billboards without affecting the rights of the two companies. The case was adjourned to a date to be arranged and there were no replying papers.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  illegal billboards

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