Classification board postpones The Spear hearing

2012-05-23 09:02

The Film and Publication Board (FPB) has postponed its hearing into whether Brett Murray’s The Spear should be classified to next week.

Lawyers acting for City Press and the Goodman Gallery were notified late last night by the FPB that it had reconsidered its earlier decision to proceed with the hearing today at 2pm.

This comes after City Press asked for a postponement due to the “extremely little” time afforded to the respondents to prepare their case.

The FPB normally allows interest parties a month to make submissions, but City Press and the Goodman Gallery were afforded four hours to prepare before the hearing was due to start at 6pm last night.

At last night’s proceedings:
» The FPB’s chief executive Yoliswa Makhasi recused herself after Advocate Steven Budlender, acting for City Press and the gallery, showed her messages posted by her on Twitter that indicates a “perception of bias” against publishers of the artwork;

» It was revealed that City Press and the gallery were not appearing before the classification committee, which ultimately will decide whether to classify The Spear or not, but before the FPB’s board that consisted of six FPB employees, two private individuals and two lawyers;

» The FPB revealed that by last night it had not yet appointed a classification committee to view and rule on The Spear – despite the fact that FPB employees visited the Goodman gallery on Monday and was ready to issue its report on the same day.

Neither FPB board chairperson Thoko Mpumlwana, nor any of her fellow council members listed on the board’s website were present at last night’s hearing.

At 10.45pm yesterday, after the board had ruled City Press must appear before the classification committee this afternoon, the head of legal services, Sipho Risiba, notified the newspaper’s lawyers that “we have reconsidered our decision, and are of the view that the time afforded to you could be inadequate”.

The hearing will now continue on Tuesday. 

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