Fury over new Zapiro cartoon
Johannesburg - The latest Zapiro cartoon in the Mail & Guardian has incensed the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), who blasted it as "distasteful" and "deplorable".
The cartoon depicts President Jacob Zuma undoing his pants as Eugene De Kock and Schabir Shaik hold down lady justice. The infamous shower head sketched above Zuma's is etched closer to the president's head.
A speech bubble has Zuma saying: "Begging your pardon."
The cartoon relates to applications for a presidential pardon from both De Kock and Shaik.
Numsa said the caricature "implants in the minds of the public" that Zuma is a rapist despite being cleared of rape charges by a court of law.
"This venomous and personal hatred of President Zuma camouflaged as an artistic skill by Zapiro is a sign of disrespect not only to President Zuma, but to the office and the position he occupies in society as the fourth democratically elected Head of State," the union said in a statement.
"Whilst we respect and uphold the Constitution and freedom of expression, it does not give cartoonists licence to undermine the fundamental rights to dignity as guaranteed in the Constitution."
It also described the cartoon as "reckless" through depicting a woman about to be raped in a country wracked by violence and abuse against women.
Numsa demanded that the newspaper and Zapiro apologise to Zuma and that the SA Human Rights Commission take action against the cartoonist.
The presidency confirmed that Zuma met Eugene de Kock, who served 14 years of a 212-year-sentence for apartheid era atrocities, prompting speculation that he is considering pardoning the former Vlakplaas commander, nicknamed "Prime Evil", as a political trade-off for a reprieve for Shaik.
Shaik was controversially granted medical parole last year after serving two years and four months of a 15-year jail term for fraud and corruption, relating in part to an alleged bribe he arranged between Zuma and a French arms dealer.
The presidency this week confirmed it had received Shaik's application for pardon.