Durban - President Jacob Zuma’s family is considering taking legal action against controversial artist Ayanda Mabulu, they said on Thursday.
The family has finally broken its silence about Mabulu’s latest painting depicting Zuma in a compromising sexual position with Atul Gupta.
The painting, which is being exhibited at the Ruben Pasha gallery at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg, has sent shock waves across the country.
News24 reported that the painting was part of an exhibition on the status quo after apartheid, which is being held at Constitution Hill.
Speaking on behalf of the family, Zuma’s son Edward said that while the family respected Mabulu, other South African artists and the Constitutional right to freedom of expression, they felt that the president's rights had been abused.
"The Constitution says that every right has a limit and has a responsibility. We feel insulted that Ayanda Mabulu has abused his Constitutional right, infringing on our privacy," said Zuma.
'Mabulu must be stopped'
He said Mabulu had shown great disrespect toward the Zuma family.
"Depicting an elder in the manner in which he has depicted the president clearly shows that he has no regard for others. Just because you have a right, it does not mean that you should disregard other people’s rights.
"As a family, we feel offended and we are waiting to hear from other artists denouncing the painting, because their silence will indicate that they support his views. We are already looking at taking legal action."
The family also challenged the South African Human Right’s Commission to take action against Mabulu.
Zuma said Mabulu’s painting was "shocking, disturbing, disrespectful and disgusting".
He said the family was waiting for the government to take swift action against Mabulu.
"Those NGOs who are against pornography should not be silent on this matter, unless they too have been captured. It is [the painting] insensitive because the president has young children and there are young children all over the world that will see that painting.
"What example are we setting to young children in the country? As a family we condemn this painting and we call on South Africans to condemn it as well. Mabulu must be stopped."
He said the painting was an embarrassment for the country.
"The president is currently traveling and that painting is all over the internet. This is embarrassing for South Africa. Some South Africans are abusing the Constitution. Freedom of expression must come with dignity and respect.”
'Galleries should be ashamed'
He accused Mabulu of being a "porn artist" who should be isolated from other artists.
"He should be isolated by artist associations, and the gallery showing these paintings in their galleries should be ashamed. When galleries are presented with such images, they should turn the artists away and tell them their work is undignified."
Just yesterday, he said, South Africans were complaining that the president had broken the Constitution, referring to the Constitutional Court ruling that Zuma flouted the Constitution when he ignored Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's remedial action on the non-security upgrades done at his private home in Nkandla.
"Why are the [Mmusi] Maimanes of this world quiet on the matter? If they were real South Africans, they would condemn this."
The family questioned Mabulu’s values.
"If we could sit down with him, we would ask him where did he grow up? We would tell him to grow up and be responsible," Edward Zuma said.
Mabulu is not new to controversy. In 2012, his Umshini Wam painting of the president showed him wearing traditional Zulu regalia, with his right leg raised and his private parts exposed.
The South African Human Rights Commission was not immediately available for comment.