'Dignity rights don't apply to presidency'

2012-05-24 11:41
Gallery  |  click on thumbnail to view larger image

Zuma painting court case underway

Supporters gathered outside the South Gauteng High Court as the ANC went to court over a controversial painting of President Jacob Zuma.

Johannesburg - Court has adjourned in the South Gauteng High Court where a full bench of judges is hearing an application by the ANC to have Brett Murray's painting "The Spear" removed from City Press's website and from display at the Goodman Gallery.

Just before the court took its break, Judge Neels Claassen asked the ANC’s attorney Advocate Gcina Malindi, if the ANC would still be making a case if Murray had placed FW de Klerk’s head on the painting.

Earlier, Malindi conceded that dignity and privacy rights do not apply to Zuma's office as president of the country or the ANC. 

The painting depicts the president with his genitals exposed.

Huge team of lawyers

The matter began by hearing a last minute application by Saleem Ebrahim attorneys to be a friend of the court. Claassen dismissed the application, and the two other judges of the bench agreed.

Zehir Omar, of the Society for the Protection of the Constitution, had introduced himself to the court during the customary introductions, but was stopped and told this was not possible as he was not part of the proceedings.

Earlier a huge team of lawyers and television technicians set up for the application at courtroom 6E.

However, before proceedings could begin, some of the attorneys began complaining there was not enough space for them in the small court room, and they were unhappy with having to instruct their advocates from the public gallery.

Access to court itself was strictly controlled with security searching bags on entry.

Included in the public gallery were ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe and George Moyo, who was out on bail for allegedly spray painting part of the word "respect" on the wall of the Goodman Gallery.

Painting defaced

The ANC application includes a demand that City Press remove images of The Spear from its website, that the Goodman Gallery remove the painting, and destroy promotional material.

The painting itself was defaced at the Goodman Gallery on Tuesday when Barend la Grange was filmed painting a red cross over the genital area and face, and Louis Mabokela smeared black paint over the face and the rest of the body.

They face charges of malicious damage to property.

However, the ANC said it would press on with the case. It maintains the painting violated Zuma and the ANC's right to dignity, in terms of the Constitution.

City Press is defending publication on the grounds of freedom of expression.

- SAPA
Read more on:    goodman gallery  |  anc  |  jacob zuma  |  brett murray  |  johannesburg  |  zuma painting
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