City of Cape Town sticks to rigid application of bylaw
Christian pro-life activist Peter Throp has told the Mayor of Cape Town, Patricia de Lille, that his moral conscience will not allow him to stop placing Value Life stickers over illegal abortion advertisements.
Throp’s sticker campaign has earned him a R2500 fine and a warning that he will be fined again if he continues with his campaign. Throp says that rather than pay the fine he will go to court on November 12 to defend his actions.
Throp launched the Value Life campaign after two years of regularly removing illegal abortion stickers only to see them being replaced with more.
In an email sent to De Lille yesterday he says he looks forward to the court date as an opportunity to determine the legality and moral justification for his campaign.
In a reference to a previous email that he sent to the Mayor (on August 17) he says: “I restate to you, the Honourable Mayor, that I am saddened that you cannot find the compassion for the public and support the ‘Value Life’ stickers.”
Concern for victims
He continues: “From my position I cannot suspend my actions simply because I have been issued and threatened with a R2 500 fine. My moral conscience and concern for the victims of back street abortionists, dictates that I continue to cover up with a warning to the public as much of the undesirable advertising that I physically can. I will petition the court to view my continued action as one of a moral conscience and not an action of one who disregards the law. My record is one of being a law abiding model citizen.”
In the email Throp points out that when he was fined at midday on Sunday, December 30, he was placing Value Life stickers over unlawful abortion advertising that had been in view for more than a month despite the fact that he had alerted Chief Environmental Control Officer Debbie Evans to the illegal advertising. He also provides details and photographs of illegal abortion advertising over a wide area of Cape Town that is proliferating under the City’s watch.
“Due to this status quo and the City’s record of failure to prosecute the criminal back street abortionists , I will ask the court to make null and void any further fines that the City may see fit to issue me in this interim period leading up to the actual court hearing, as I feel that I must be true and honour my moral conscience. I will ask the court to consider that I am not placing ‘Value Life’ stickers for any personal or monetary gain. I am truly concerned for the would be victims and the legacy that this generation will pass on,” Throp concludes.
Gateway News asked the Mayor and Evans to comment on Throp’s appeal to the Mayor for understanding and support of his campaign which is driven by concern for women endangered by the City’s failure to rid the city of the abortion posters and arrest the criminals behind them.
2 000 posters removed each month
Evans responded with a stock reply which she has been sending to people who have emailed the Mayor in connection with Throp’s activities. She says that her department removes about 2000 illegal posters a month during routine cleanups. She points out that SAPS is responsible for investigating and arresting the illegal abortion advertisers and that registration of an abortion facility is a Provincial duty.
In her stock response Evans also refers to previous email correspondence in which both she and Derek Bock, Chief Operations Officer of the Voortrekker Road Corridor Improvement District (VRCID) advised Throp that his sticker campaign contravened the City’s bylaw on outdoor advertising and that he would be prosecuted if he continued with the campaign.
She says she told Throp that he was wrong in believing that he was acting legally because he was only posting his pro-life stickers over the illegal abortion advertisements. She says she told him he was in fact doing exactly what the ‘illegal abortion doctors’ were doing — pasting illegal advertisements onto City property.
Multiple layers of stickers
She also says: “Mr Throp was further advised that the costs for removing these posters can run into thousands of rands and by posting multiple layers of stickers on top of other illegal posters only increases the amount of work the City needs to do to restore the surfaces to which these posters are being pasted onto.”
The charge that the Value Life stickers aggravate the cleaning job is also made in an email sent to Throp today by Rudolf Wiltshire, Chief: Law Enforcement, City of Cape Town. In a message in response to Throp’s latest email to the Mayor, he says: “We are in the process of removing all these unwanted and defacing stickers from our roadside property coupled with enforcement. I kindly request that you don’t add more stickers onto those surfaces and make our work of cleaning even more difficult.”
Throp sent Wiltshire a reply email in which he says: “I feel compelled to inform you that the ‘Value Life’ sticker does not in any way damage property other than the offensive illegal displayed abortion adverts.
“The fact that ‘Value Life’ stickers are only placed on top of these offensive adverts, can in no way be considered as extra cleaning for the City. The action of ‘Value Life’ certainly does not make the City’s life more difficult or costly and evidence to prove this will be presented to the court.”
Calling for understanding of his campaign, his email continues: “The City should put their mindset not as one of offense to their authority, but one of support for a campaign that will promote the way our nation should value individual citizens’ lives and the constructive action to eradicate our nation from this evil scourge. Like the City’s slogan says, our leaders are here to serve and protect. ( ‘This City works for you’ )
“I repeat, I am a responsible citizen and at no time would I intentionally deface any property belonging to the City or anyone else. The fact that the city allows sticker advertising in some instances is a double standard and places the city’s action against myself as a hypocritical course of action.”
After receiving Evans’ stock response to its questions, Gateway News emailed her and the Mayor again, pointing out that they had not addressed the question about Throp’s appeal for understanding. Gateway News also put three more questions to the Mayor, asking why she did not respond personally to Throp — a citizen who is concerned about the welfare of women endangered by posters which her administration is unable to control; whether she could not come up with a more creative response to Throp’s conscience-driven campaign than to threaten him with prosecution and fining him; and whether she has sought help from SAPS and Provincial Authorities and has an action plan to deal with the root of the problem.
Solly Malatsi, Spokesperson for the Mayor of Cape Town, replied: “All illegal posters, regardless of their contents, violate the city’s outdoor advertising policy.
“The City removes illegally pasted posters during routine clean up operations that are initiated to rid our streets of these posters.
“We issue fines to the perpetrators where we can identify them.
“The City’s law enforcement units are working with SAPS to prevent the spread of illegal posters throughout the city.”
‘Drop in the bucket’
Commenting on Evans’s statement that the City removes about 2000 stickers a month and has no investigative or arrest powers, Throp says in an email to Gateway News: ” [her statement] confirms my statements and assessment of the state of our nation. 2000 is a drop in the bucket and confirms my call for action to cut off telephone services is for us the only light at the end of the tunnel.” Throp has previously suggested that authorities should cut off cell phone numbers on illegal advertisements.
The stand-off between Throp and the City of Cape Town has been in effect since early August. During this time he has tried to engage the Mayor on the big issue of the impact of the out-of-control backyard abortion advertisements. But Mayor De Lille has ignored him and left it to officials to respond. Likewise during this time De Lille has not responded to questions directed to her. Is she aware of the danger to women posed by the posters? Is she unconcerned? Does she realise that her administration’s street cleanup programme falls dismally short of what is needed? Does she have the will to rise to the leadership challenge and do whatever it will take to mobilise the resources needed to defeat this evil that has the upper hand in the city?
The City of Cape Town’s inflexible, letter-of-the-law approach to Throp’s campaign has been criticised by some commentators.
“We should look at the “intent”, the root issue. In my opinion, Mr Throp is on the side of the City, putting an action to stop the illegal poster-sticking activity. He is the City’s right arm of preventing this visual littering from happening in the first place. His posters do NOT promote an illegal activity, but the ones he is covering DO. His intent is to protect passers-by from committing a crime. The city should support the intent, not get caught up in the details of how many layers of paper are on a particular surface,” says Ralph Muenstermann of Justice ACTS International.
Taryn Hodgson, International Co-ordinator of the Christian Action Network, says: “The Church is willing to help the Department of Health and Police crackdown on illegal abortionists who are endangering so many millions of women and babies’ lives. However, it is ludicrous when the police fine pro-lifers for taking action against these abortion posters but fail to arrest those who are clearly contravening the law.”
It should be noted that Cape Town is not the only city in South Africa that is infested with illegal abortion advertisements. But Throp is the first citizen to stir up a local authority that is unable to rid its street property of unlawful abortion stickers.
Since launching the Value Life campaign against illegal abortion advertising in July, Throp has called on Christians around South Africa to take a stand in their areas. He invited anybody who would like more information to call him at 073 280 0555.