The new, proposed graffiti by-law criminalizes all forms of public art and violates our personal right to freedom of expression on private property. It makes no distinction between vandalism and public art that is done with the permission of the owner of the property.
The by-law will soon be presented for public discussion and these are the two main issues that we feel need to be addressed:
- The definition of ‘graffiti’ under the by-law is too broad. It classifies ‘graffiti’ as any inscription, word, figure, letter, sign, symbol, sketch, picture or drawing. There should be a clear differentiation between ‘graffiti vandalism’ [e.g. gang tags, scratchings] and public art that is done with permission from the owner [murals, colourful characters and positive, inspiring messages].
- The by- law removes the legal right of the private property owner to paint anything other than a house number on his/her wall. We strongly believe that the private property owner should maintain the right to determine what to paint on to his/her property without permission from the City.
We, the undersigned, urge the City of Cape Town to amend this by-law to become a more inclusive one and thus limit the damage it can potentially do to the creative growth of our city.