n South African Journal of Criminal Justice - Graffiti : is the writing on the wall intelligible? : comments

Volume 27, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1011-8527
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2118



Graffiti is a problem in many areas in South Africa. Not only can graffiti be a visual nuisance it may also lead to the general degradation of an area and increasing crime levels (JQ Wilson and GL Kelling 'Broken windows: The police and neighbourhood safety' (1982) March 29). See in general WG Skogan (1990). Pursuant to this, it has been suggested that crime levels (especially violent crimes) can be reduced by monitoring, preventing and prosecuting minor crimes (GL Kelling and RP Corbett 'This works: Preventing and reducing crime' (2003) 32 1).

Considering South Africa's significant crime rates, if punishing minor crimes such as graffiti, could assist in lowering the incidence of serious crimes, then it is something South African law officials should pursue. However, prosecuting graffiti crimes is not as simple as it would seem. Indeed, the law seems not to offer a clear solution for the prosecution of graffiti. This comment seeks to explore the confusing legislative position regarding graffiti in South Africa.

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