Several journalists have also confirmed sighting similar billboards in a number of other Johannesburg locations including Orange Grove suburb, Thembisa Township and Diepsloot in Soweto. The other design for the billboards reads, ‘There is a reason so many Zimbabweans are in South Africa: FREEDOM.’ The message ends with the same demand for independently run elections.
Hill managed to speak to a woman activist who is part of Zimbabwe Democracy Now and she confirmed they were behind the first billboard that was erected in Musina in October. At that time armed South African police, accompanied by 9 soldiers in a troop carrier, swooped on the two advertising workers erecting the billboard. The billboard read, ‘We know why you are in South Africa: Life in Zimbabwe is Murder; But please go back to vote in March. We can all be free.’ Musina city council allegedly ordered it to be pulled down, before a backlash from the media, politicians and the courts forced a u-turn and the billboard was left alone.
It’s now unlikely the authorities will tamper with the wave of new billboards sprouting up all over Johannesburg. Hill says it will take a very bold politician to try and get them pulled down. The people behind the campaign want to remain anonymous but the one who spoke to Hill said
Zimbabwe Democracy Now is a coalition of church and NGO groups that work in and outside Zimbabwe. The publicity surrounding the first billboard in Musina has apparently helped them secure more funding to put up more billboards in South Africa.