Zuma art case postponed indefinitely

2012-05-24 15:26


Johannesburg - The South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg has indefinitely postponed a court application by the ANC and President Jacob Zuma to remove a portrait depicting him with his genitals exposed from an art gallery exhibition.

The court also ruled on Thursday that video footage of the African National Congress's lawyer breaking down may not be televised.

"Before we postpone the matter there is another thing that has to be dealt with," said Judge Neels Claassen.

"It has been brought to the court's notice that the portion where the ANC and Zuma's advocate Gcina Malindi broke down has been televised.

"And, as a full court, we are of the view that should not be further televised," he said.

This would apply locally and internationally.

The case was then indefinitely postponed. Another date would be set and another full Bench constituted.

Malindi was responding to a question on changes in South Africa, when Claassen suddenly adjourned the court shortly before noon.

Word spread that Malindi had broken down and he was surrounded by colleagues before leaving the courtroom.


"I was just overcome by emotions," he said after the case was postponed.

Government spokesperson Jimmy Manyi said he was "appalled" and "disappointed" that e.tv had censored visuals of Malindi's breakdown.

"Government believes that, in this particular instance, e.tv was biased and failed to broadcast a true reflection of the court proceedings," he said.

"e.tv censored the visuals that would have shown his deep pain and emotion, that expressed the culmination of the sentiment of humiliation and denigration of the dignity of President Jacob Zuma, his office and the African culture that is shared by millions of South Africans."

In response, eNews said that in the past it had been criticised by the judiciary for airing sensational material unrelated to matters being argued.

"Firstly, eNews respects the rule of law. Advocate Malindi's breakdown was unexpected and caught our team off-guard. The decision was taken not to broadcast the clip until we had clarity from the judges," said group head of news Patrick Conroy.

It was mindful that the court might have taken a dim view of this being broadcast, regardless of editorial opinion.

"What the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) fails to recognise is that normal editorial rules do not apply when filming in court. There are judicial sensitivities we must be mindful of and respect," said Conroy.

The ANC, Zuma and his children want the Brett Murray painting titled The Spear removed from the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg.

Two people were filmed painting over it on Tuesday, because they believed it violates Zuma's Constitutional right to dignity.

Freedom of expression

The gallery and City Press, which posted a picture of the painting on its website, have refused to remove the image arguing censorship and a constitutional right to freedom of expression.

Throughout the day, a large crowd of ANC supporters gathered outside the court to show their support for Zuma.

Most of the group wore ANC T-shirts and sang in front of the court building. Some displayed posters reading: "President Zuma has a right to human dignity and privacy".

During the adjournment, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe asked the crowd to march on the Goodman Gallery in Rosebank on Tuesday.

"The march must be successful and it must send a clear message.

"African culture is not inferior. We must protect African-ness," Mantashe told the crowd.


He echoed SA Communist Party leader Blade Nzimande's call to boycott City Press.

Earlier, in response to calls for a boycott, City Press editor-in-chief Ferial Haffajee said: "As an editor, one tries one's best to be first with the news and to maximise your newspaper's impact. No one wants a boycott."

The Azanian People's Organisation rallied behind City Press and said it was disturbed by Nzimande's call to boycott the newspaper.

"We find this call irresponsible, intolerant and foolish, more so from a person of his political and academic standing," its national deputy spokesperson Funani ka Ntontela said in a statement.

ANC national spokesperson Jackson Mthembu, who also addressed the crowd outside the court, said the guard who stopped vandals from destroying the picture was "a fool".

About Malindi, he said: "Our lawyers are also simple people. Our lawyers also become overcome by this nonsense."

ANC Gauteng provincial secretary David Makhura said he would defend anyone who was insulted in the name of art.

Duduzile Zuma thanked the crowd for supporting her father.

Umkhonto we Sizwe national chair Kenny Mapatswe said the ANC's military wing would come to court again and again to defend dignity.

He said a review of the Constitution had to be considered. "In other countries [the painting] would never happen," he said.


Read more on:    anc  |  jacob zuma  |  brett murray  |  zuma painting

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