Zapiro relieved cartoon suit is over

2012-10-29 14:05

Johannesburg - Cartoonist Jonathan "Zapiro" Shapiro is relieved the "Lady Justice" cartoon court battle with President Jacob Zuma is over, he said on Monday.

"It's a great victory for freedom of expression and for satire and for comment," he said by telephone from Cape Town.

Media lawyer Dario Milo said the case was formally withdrawn on Monday morning.

Shapiro, who signs himself as "Zapiro", said he had been looking forward to airing what he felt were important points made in the cartoon since the R5m claim was lodged against him and the Sunday Times in December 2008.

However, in the past week there had been a "steady capitulation" by Zuma's team. The amount was reduced to R4m, with the impairment of dignity aspect dropped.

‘A victory for Lady Justice, Press Freedom’

Zuma then reduced it to a demand for R100 000 for defamation and an unconditional apology, before letting it go altogether.

Shapiro said the president's decision did not mean he would stop drawing "Lady Justice".

"Most certainly I will be drawing 'Lady Justice' and 'Press Freedom'. Maybe having a drink together... a glass of champagne. I see it as a victory for both.

"But I'm not going out of my way to use them. This whole episode was about a particular set of circumstances," he said.

On Sunday, presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj issued a statement confirming news reports about the withdrawal of the suit, in which he said: "After careful consideration and consultation with his legal team, President Zuma has taken a decision to withdraw his claim against the respondents, and pay a contribution to their costs."

This was to avoid setting a legal precedent that "may have the effect of limiting the public exercise of free speech".

‘Racist attitudes’

The presidency felt the courts were not always the best places for these matters to be resolved, and the president also had to get on with resolving urgent economic and political issues.

Other comments in the communiqué relating to freedom of speech and African mores brought up mixed feelings for Shapiro on Monday and had made him a bit more "combative", he said.

Part of the statement read: "...Essentially what lies at the heart of the Sunday Times' publication of the cartoon was a set of deeply ingrained prejudices regarding not only the president, but which extend to views about African males and sexual mores.

"... Defeating racist attitudes requires removing the racial imprint on the way South African society is organised and structured, as well as continuous political action and open dialogue between South Africans across racial and cultural divides. The president wishes to encourage this route to solving such problems."

A cheap trick - Zapiro

Said Shapiro: "It's a bit of a cheap trick... to completely drop the charges and completely cave in, then call me a racist."

He questioned Maharaj's statement on free speech.

"Claiming freedom of expression is a cheap trick - pursuing someone for four years and being the most litigious president we have ever had," he said.

In September 2008, the Sunday Times published a cartoon drawn by Shapiro depicting Zuma loosening his trousers while "Lady Justice" was pinned down by since expelled African National Congress Youth League president Julius Malema, Congress of SA Trade Unions general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, SA Communist Party general secretary Blade Nzimande and ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe, all saying: "Go for it, boss".

At the time, Zuma had been acquitted of rape, and had had a long-running battle against corruption charges with French arms company Thint. The corruption charges were dropped because the National Prosecuting Authority said there was recorded evidence of interference in the case.

The Democratic Alliance is trying to get those tapes, through the courts.

This week, the Sunday Times carried a Shapiro cartoon depicting Zuma lying on the ground with "Lady Justice" sitting on one of his arms, a showerhead over his head, and a broken baseball bat on his other side, on which the words "R5m lawsuit" were written.

Shapiro was depicted holding a picture of the cartoon in question, pinning Zuma's other arm down, with the words "Are we done here?" in the speech bubble.

  • kala.bafazi - 2012-10-29 14:15

    It goes to show that when you stand up to the school yard bully they will always back down. Good on ya Zapiro!

      luther.kingsley.5 - 2012-10-29 15:47

      Like Zapiro said to Zuma "...respect is earned..." you cannot force respect out of people when you do immoral and corrupt things

      saintbruce.bruce - 2012-10-29 16:33

      Hey Johnathan - now sue Zuma and Mac for defamation and derogatory comments for , say, R 208 Million or hand over Nkandla ! The cartoon has nothing to say about racism but everything to say about corrupt practices in political appointments inside the justice system. The objective of satire is mostly lost on the uneducated.I leave you, the reader , to work out how tragic this whole affair has turned out. Our President is completely spineless! It also has nothing to do with respecting the office of the President because Jacob Zuma was already implicated in criminal activities before he became President and that does not go away simply from holding high office but it should have prohibited him from ever holding such office.

  • arthur.hugh - 2012-10-29 14:17

    Well done Mr.Shapiro! No doubt that R20m given to Zuma for his litigation bills recently in the news was used here unfortunately. Zuma, you are a disgrace to the country.

      croix.mactee - 2012-10-29 21:16

      @Hugh- Old Zooombarassment can hardly make a bigger fool of himself?

  • craig.thom.376 - 2012-10-29 14:20

    waiting for the next,good job Zapiro.

  • lorain.maseko - 2012-10-29 14:25

    There was nothing racist about that cartoon,on the other hand if they wanna know about racists they must read the comments on News24

  • kobus.hattingh.5 - 2012-10-29 14:26

    Now sue Maharaj for 5 million for defamation of character :) and settle for 100 000 eventually ...

  • Eterni80 - 2012-10-29 15:18

    Zuma has enough money already, if he acted with dignity, he could expect the same in return..

  • Lungelo Sangweni Msizi - 2012-10-29 15:59


  • parys.fotograaf - 2012-10-29 16:18

    Zapiro, thx for calling his bluff. Hopefully more people will be motivated now to keep on fighting until he charged in court. I'd love to see that day, even if he is dragged in kicking and screaming.

  • unforgetteble.cakes - 2012-10-29 16:36

    I thought newspapers were supposed to be imformative and cartoonist to be creative.but all we get these days is journos nd cartoonits' personal agendas with individuals.When last did you read anything by Shapiro nd Justice Malala thats in the puplic's interest without getting personal?

      arthur.hugh - 2012-10-29 18:01

      It's a political cartoon, numbnuts.

      tasneem.sattar.5 - 2012-10-30 12:23

      How is awareness of the abuse of power by the most powerful office (or individual to be specific) in civil service, not in the public's interest pray tell?

  • Michael - 2012-10-29 16:57

    Zapiro, i think you dont know that you are racist, but your actions are that of a racist, its like when people are doing something stupid, theyget offended whe you called them'stupid' it is the same with you Zapiro, you get very defensive when being accused of being racist, but the fact is that you are, just that you dont know, since you are the victim of your past. Not your fault Jonathan Shapiro.

      arthur.hugh - 2012-10-29 18:02

      Rubbish. He reflects the truth, with humour.

      george.outremer - 2012-10-29 18:02

      So let me understand this: If Lekota is critical of Zuma, he is labelled as being disingenious. If Zapiro does so he is labelled as a racist. In other words, when all else fails (and you can't make it stick), play the race card. Imbecilic, I say!

      patsy.smith.125 - 2012-10-30 09:04

      Another IDIOT!!

  • rupert.magande - 2012-10-29 17:35

    There was and ther will be no reconciliation in this country for as long as peolple like Zapiro and his supporters are

      george.outremer - 2012-10-29 18:08

      Never mind reconciliation, there is no future for this country under the current corrupt regime. Too many individuals of ill-repute who are self-serving. They are quick to talk-the-talk, but hopeless in walking-the-talk.

      thefat.canarie - 2012-10-29 18:10

      oh stick it Rupert!

  • debduplessis - 2012-10-29 19:07

    Good always prevails over EVIL... congrats Shapiro!

  • chris.vandermerwe.560 - 2012-10-29 20:29

    The fool had no chance to proof in court that he is no p..k!!!

  • elroy.erasmus.16 - 2012-10-29 23:58

    just goes to show deep down JC has better things to do then waist time in court defending the freedom the sign Go cartoonist

  • my opinion - 2012-10-30 00:46

    What victory Zapiro? the case was not won, it was withdrawn, I'm no lawyer but understand the difference. @Hugh,you said it doubt the R20m was used to defend this undeserved and unnecessary case..Zapiro go draw something else, like your family, you just cost SA a few million which could have been put to better use. Drawing Zuma in such a manner served no purpose anyway except to divide and cause bitterness between people and use hardworking taxpayers' money. Have some moral values and go back to basics..surely when you started painting your intention was not to paint naked men that land you in court. It's no achievement, you know!

      patsy.smith.125 - 2012-10-30 09:09

      Yet ANOTHER idiot!!!! Zapiro hasn't cost anyone anything - ZUMA has with his egotism. Zapiro draws very good pictures of our useless prez.

  • patsy.smith.125 - 2012-10-30 08:59

    Good for you, Zapiro! Please carry on showing up the idiots for what they are. Especially the egotistical,'you can't touch me' ones who think they are a law unto themselves....

  • mphogift.mukwevho - 2012-10-30 09:54


  • tasneem.sattar.5 - 2012-10-30 11:20

    If they wanted to 'avoid setting a precedent that "may have the effect of limiting the public exercise of free speech"', would it not have been better to not have reacted at all (or reacted in a constructive, non confrontational manner) in the first place!?

  • cialb - 2012-12-06 18:24

    Interesting how little media coverage this got in the end, considering all the hype at first when he was threatened. Seems the media is intimidated by the Zuma machine to me. Good for you Zapiro for standing up to him nonetheless.

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