Artist threatened after painting Thuli’s portrait

2014-10-30 00:00

AFTER painting Thuli Madonsela’s portrait on a wall, an artist who teamed up with TogetherSA was told he would be stabbed.

TogetherSA advocates transparency in government and recently created the campaign “WeThePeople” in support of South Africa’s public protector and freedom of speech.

However, the artist whose painting of Madonsela was painted over hours after it was completed, was told by a community member that he would be stabbed if he painted it again.

Founder of TogetherSA, Di Smith said her team and well-known Pietermaritzburg graffiti artist Gasak drove to Inanda recently to promote democracy.

Smith said she and her team drove to Dube Village, in Inanda, the night before the project was scheduled to start.

“We met Gogo Dube, the surviving daughter of Dr John Dube [the founder member and first president of the ANC]. We wanted to explain the purpose of our project and we wanted her blessing. Gogo said she was 200% behind us,” said Smith excitedly.

Dube said she thought the campaign was a great idea because she supported Madonsela and what she has done.

“Thuli is a wonderful woman. I like what she does very much,” said the mild-mannered Gogo.

Smith said there was no political message behind the painting and that it was painted to promote a clean government.

Smith said she stayed over in an elderly woman’s house in Dube Village, who did not have much to give, but was extremely hospitable.

According to Smith, Gasak started painting early in the morning wearing a Mandela mask in the spirit of democracy.

“The first day went really well, but when I went back the next day to see the painting, it had been covered,” Gasak said.

Gasak said he had been disappointed to see his work removed so quickly and decided to find out who painted over his work.

“It was not political — there were no slogans or party colours,” he said.

Gasak said he was talking to a member of the community to find out who had covered his work, when he was told by a man that he would be stabbed if he tried to paint Madonsela again.

“He [the community member] said, he would stab me if I tried to paint it again.”

“Thuli is not politically appointed,” said Smith. She and her team said it had been both sad and disappointing to see people reacting to the public protector so negatively.

Public protector spokesperson Oupa Segalwe said Madonsela was aware of the campaign and supports freedom of speech.

“We would advise others to just submit their ideas in the market of ideas rather than suppress others. In that way, democracy as a dialogue will be enriched,” said Segalwe.

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