In response to todays (Monday 15th 2011) article in The Mercury under the title “GANG CAUGHT RED HANDED”:

A front page title such as GANG CAUGHT RED HANDED smacks of sensationalist and irresponsible journalism upon clearer analysis of the details of the event being described.

For any writer worth their pen, there can be no denying the obvious negative connotations associated with the use of a word like GANG in describing a group of urban youth, especially in a country and a city where violent gangsterism is still a serious issue affecting our communities. To label as a GANG a small group of young creative artists, engaging in what was quite obviously an unsuspecting and harmless act of craft and expression, is once again both short-sighted and potentially damaging for those involved, and can in no way be justified other than as an attempt at catching the attention of potential consumers of a product, in this case a newspaper.

To clarify: this group of artists that has been labelled a “gang” was gathering together, on a Sunday, in broad daylight, to paint a mural in a public space, permission for which had been granted to them previously by the apparent owner of the wall. This event has become an annual gathering by the artists, in tribute to a deceased friend, and was intended to add value to an apparently run-down and previously unsightly area of the city, home to a small population of the poorer residents of Durban (nicknamed “Dalton” in reference to the Dalton Road Hostels). The event was broadly advertised on social networking sites in an open invitation to any artists willing to participate in the tribute.

Does any of this sound like the act of “an organized group of criminals” (one of the Oxford Dictionary definitions of the word GANG)?

On an additional note, the article details further the extent of the police operation that resulted in this bust, including the employment of private investigators. Surely this is an unnecessary and somewhat extravagant use of City funds, when apparently they could have simply gone on to Facebook to find out more about this alleged “gang”?

The fact is, Graffiti Art in Durban, despite the countless examples of its aesthetic qualities and obvious craft, despite its continued assistance in a number of community up-liftment programs, despite its global acceptance as a legitimate form of artistic expression, has constantly been a victim of misrepresentation by a sensationalist media, and this lack of responsibility by our news agents should be highlighted.

Yours in solidarity with all such artists,



Posted on August 15, 2011, in Ewok and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I would like to highlight the double standards of the municipality.  I represent a LEGAL spray painting crew.  WE are currently sponsored by reputable sponsors that sponsor internationally and have partnerships with a few other brands.  ALL our artwork is legal as we cannot afford to lose our sponsorship.  Where ever we have painted we have asked permission to do so.  We are sick and tired of being labeled as vandals or criminals!!! Sure there are artists out there who do illegal stuff and we DO NOT condone it.  Its people like that who give us the bad reputation.  Did the journalist who wrote the article on the 7 arrested bother to interview any one of those 7????? I think not!! That wall was deemed a legal wall by the company and as far as being caught red handed they weren’t even hiding!!!!! Do you really think they would be “vandalizing” in broad daylight for everyone to see if it was illegal??? That “Party” was organized for a fellow artist who has passed away.  It was a memorial. A man was killed for R1.50! Yet a whole team of policeman was used to arrest HARMLESS artists at the same time! Now where are Durban’s priorities?????? On my second point, Amanzimtoti council has approached us to quote on painting their bridges and walls with our so called vandalism. They as a council think our work is beautiful art; I have emails and text messages to support this. Now why is it that one council can see the beauty of what we do and another call us common criminals?? Another thing is let’s look at the area they were “vandalizing” is it a nice area? Is it somewhere you would want to be? No, and I know a lot of people who don’t know anything about art or graffiti who love driving down Sydney Road purely for the art on the walls.  I wonder if the paper or journalists know that right round the corner in Dalton is a known area to buy drugs but the artists are targeted as they are a much bigger threat to society than drug dealers ?! Why doesn’t the city designate proper walls to the artists other than the beach park???? The journalist who wrote the article should also get their facts right “TAO stands for taking on authority” how does that one work?  That is not even what that stands for. The whole article is completely one sided and is not factual at all!  Us as FREE LEGAL artists will be making a stand against this arrest and article

  2. i strongly agree. this is disgusting and that journalist should get fired!

  3. Mrs. Letia Ingram

    I’m a “graffiti mom” campaigning for LEGAL WALLS in and around Durban … and for schools to provide a SAFE and UNBIASED outlet for our aspiring graff ARTISTS, (with support and encouragent)! With this approach, more understanding of the ART and its messages for present-day society, and the very talented ARTISTS, will go a long way to eradicating the “vandalism mentality” – both in the graffiti heirarchy, and in Society … Good for you, Ewok! Keep up the good fight!

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