The Spear decision expected today

2012-06-01 07:07

The Film and Publication Board (FPB) will decide on whether to classify Brett Murray’s contentious painting The Spear, which depicts President Jacob Zuma with exposed genitals.

FPB chief operations officer Mmapula Fisha said earlier this week that the classification committee would inform stakeholders of its decision in writing by today.

She said the FPB did not have the legal jurisdiction to classify any content published or broadcast by media outlets.

However, she said this did not mean it would “fold hands over the issue”.

The decision on whether to classify would be based on all the information presented at a hearing in Centurion on Tuesday, said FPB spokesperson Mlimandlela Ndamase.

“This committee will make the decision whether to classify or not. It will make a decision as to what classifications and restrictions will be applicable if the members decide to classify,” he said.

Ndamase said the FPB’s interest was the portrait, not the person it depicted.

Advocate Matthew Welz – for the Goodman Gallery, in Johannesburg, where the painting was shown – has dismissed complaints that the genitals depicted in the portrait would harm children who visited the gallery for inspiration.

He said the Goodman Gallery had a proud history of displaying protest art and the Murray portrait fitted this class.

The portrait was not rude nudity, but a strong political statement to those in power, said Welz. He rubbished submissions by the complainants that the image was “porn”.

Confronted about the South African history and context, Welz said it was not the mandate of the FPB to determine whether the portrait was appropriate for the country.

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