Zuma drops suit to avoid precedent

2012-10-28 19:59

Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma withdrew his claim for damages against cartoonist "Zapiro" to avoid setting a legal precedent, the presidency said on Sunday.

"The President... would like to avoid setting a legal precedent that may have the effect of limiting the public exercise of free speech, with the unforeseen consequences this may have on our media, public commentators and citizens," his spokesperson Mac Maharaj said in a statement on Sunday.

He said Zuma had decided to withdraw his claim, made in December 2008, against Jonathan "Zapiro" Shapiro and Avusa Media, the publishers of The Sunday Times, and the newspaper's editor at the time Mondli Makhanya "after careful consideration and consultation with his legal team".

He had also decided to make a contribution to their costs.

"It is the President's view that a legal battle against individuals and institutions will be an unnecessary diversion," said Maharaj.

Zuma would rather encourage the people he was taking action against to become partners in efforts to address the problems facing the country, and to get South Africans to reach out to each other across historical divides to forge a common nationhood, "putting the country first".

Zuma had sought R5m in damages for defamation and impairment of his personal dignity over the publication of Zapiro's Lady Justice rape cartoon in September 2008.

He reduced his claim from R4m to R100 000 last week, media lawyer Dario Milo said at the time. Zuma dropped his claim that the cartoon harmed his dignity, but maintained that it had harmed his reputation. He had still wanted an unconditional apology.

The matter was to have been heard by the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Monday.

The cartoon depicted Zuma loosening his trousers while Lady Justice was held 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."

Zuma was acquitted of a rape charge in 2006

"The newspaper and the cartoonist wanted to perpetrate an image of the President as a sexual deviant, despite a court of law rejecting the allegations against him and clearing his name," said Maharaj.


The representation was "hurtful and defamatory", as the respondents had admitted in papers submitted to the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg, he said.

"This candid admission, whilst sought to be justified on other grounds, at least reflects an appreciation of the hurt and harm that such depiction brought about."

Maharaj said Zuma's decision to withdraw the matter was informed by three major considerations.

"Whereas the President believes that in an open and democratic society, a fine and sensitive balance needs to be maintained between the exercise of civil rights such as freedom of speech, and the dignity and privacy of others, that balance should be struck in favour of constitutional freedoms," he said.

It was for this reason he wanted to avoid setting a legal precedent.

Maharaj said Zuma also wanted to encourage South Africans to solve problems caused by racist attitudes by removing the racial imprint on the way the country's society was organised and structured, and through continuous political action and open dialogue across racial and cultural divides.

Matters relating to dignity and the public standing of individuals could not be mediated exclusively through the courts, he said.

"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.

"While the courts exist in part to protect citizens against racial and cultural prejudice and bigotry, those scourges will not be eradicated from our body politic through litigation alone."

Zuma's decision was also rooted in his attempts to find a way out of the difficulties the country and its people were facing because of the global economic meltdown and its accompanying frustrations, and his call on all South Africans to work together to find lasting solutions.

  • rodney.bevan.58 - 2012-10-28 20:05

    You actually mean his lawyer finally got it through his thick skull that he never had a hope of winning the case and he looks like a total chop for bringing the case in the first place.

      theo.schoeman.71 - 2012-10-28 20:24

      Amen !!

      fourhundredkg.bobbejaan - 2012-10-28 20:36

      He still looks like a total chop.

      blip.noodlum - 2012-10-28 20:57

      He looks like one because he IS one.

      evan.connock - 2012-10-28 21:02

      Agreed, he would have lost the case, it was poor judgement to bring a case against Zapiro in the first place. A case that nothing but wasted more tax payers money on trying defend an air of dignity that was not there in the first place.

      alastair.grant.98 - 2012-10-28 21:04

      "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." Give me a break! What lay at the heart of the cartoon was the character of a man who admitted under oath that he had sex with a woman half his age, who was not his wife, whom he knew to be HIV positive, without using a condom! The court acquitted him of rape, but not of stupidity - the judge had some choice words for our soon-to-be leader about his lack of judgement. But lets not focus on this man - there are a lot of men (of all races, Mac) who are slaves to their gonads - but on the party that went on to elect him to lead the country. The most bizarre twist was when the ANC Women's League threw their weight behind an acknowledged philanderer, with no education and an avalanche of charges of corruption and racketeering left unanswered! Truth really is stranger than fiction. But wait, it gets better. It looks like, after four years of failure, they are going to re-elect him. Pinch me, somebody. If there's any silver lining to this ugly cloud, it is the neat trap that Zuma found himself in - he couldn't proceed against Zapiro without proving the accuracy of the cartoon, by raping the constitution (specifically our right to free speech). Thank you, Jonathan!

      greg.quinn.353 - 2012-10-28 21:14

      Well done Zuma, now you can actually get back to focusing on what matters... such as RUNNING THE COUNTRY..

      stephenrfrank - 2012-10-28 21:16

      well said.... dr mac thinks we are idiots listening to his pathetic spin!!!

      clive.kihn - 2012-10-28 21:47

      Greg, he is just not up to "running the country"; ruining it is more like it.

      gungets.tuft - 2012-10-28 22:54

      @ssmonareng - Ahhhaaaaaaahaaaaaaahhaaa. Can you just IMAGINE your hero in court trying to explain how his dignity was damaged. In court you can't use smoke and lights bru. Zuma had already dropped the claim from R5 million to R100K then to ... nothing. The only thing he was trying to avoid was the Supreme Court judges agreeing that he has no dignity to damage.

      gerda.vanrooyen.39 - 2012-10-28 23:41

      @Greg, yes, there's a spelling mistake. Not RUNNING but RUINING. LOL

      art5SA - 2012-10-29 06:38

      ZAPIRO 1 ZUMA -0

      greg.quinn.353 - 2012-10-29 07:51

      Yes, sorry all for the typo, I did mean to say RUINING :)

      marc.hugo.75 - 2012-10-29 07:52

      Exactly Rodney. The precedent he can't afford is that he'll lose the application and "that" is the outcome (no a precedent per se, but neither is withdrawing an application) that he would want to avoid. He's a coward. He does not want to enter a fight that he has no certainty of winning. - 2012-10-29 10:23

      yeah, set a precedent mr president... admit you are useless and step down, make way for a credible and accountable leader, you have betrayed your country, your party and the citizens and children of south africa... you will be judged one day

      dewald.galjaard - 2012-10-29 14:19

      Perhaps he just wants to pocket the 20mil made available for 'legal' causes.

  • calliedj - 2012-10-28 20:06

    Seems you don't like when people address the problems you create Mr. Zuma?

      george.pistorius - 2012-10-28 21:01

      He stays an IDIOT!!!!

      Rabbler.Rouser - 2012-10-28 21:12

      And a blithering idiot at that.

      NickvanGraan - 2012-10-28 21:33

      "He" also made a decision to make a contribution to their costs? You mean "we" made a contribution towards their costs ..

      holden.gardnercaulfield - 2012-10-29 01:45

      But we are dealing with a savage and so this is what one can expect. The difference between intelligence and idiocy is that idiocy know no bounds.

      art5SA - 2012-10-29 10:04

      Zuma's attorney's KNEW their client HAD NO DIGNITY... hense the reason for the withdrawl of the case....

  • rbphiri - 2012-10-28 20:07

    This withdrawal ends a four-year battle that began in 2008, but what prompted the president to only drop the charges now, after all these years, considering that fact President Zuma had recently reduced his claims against Zapiro from R5-million to R100 000 with an apology? with Mangaung around the corner, President Zuma's legal team is probably trying to avoid a damaging legal confrontation with cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro...since a court appearance might attract negative attention.

      danny.levin.351 - 2012-10-28 20:38

      Rphiri, I've got some bad news for you. Every appearance of showerhead(especially when he opens his mouth) attracts negative attention.

      rbphiri - 2012-10-28 20:44

      True that, his head makes it worse

      gordon.turner.37 - 2012-10-28 21:34

      Anything to stay out of a witness box. His lawyers have a blank check funded by the taxpayer... This is a sudden crisis of conscience it is a realization that Shapiro wasn't buying his bluff and his wish for a settlement on the steps of the court was never going to happen. Is he really the best in the ANC?? Have all the good guys really gone?

      colin.dovey - 2012-10-29 08:44

      Where have all the good ones gone? And where are all the heroes? Where's the street-wise Leaders? To fight the rising odds? Isn't there a knight upon a fiery steed? Late at night we toss and turn and dream of what we need to save our beloved Country!

  • drummond.doig1 - 2012-10-28 20:09

    Thanks my 20 Mill for extra legal fees..saw some nice new curtains today..will buy the wives will wear what we dont hang in front of the windows.

      kolobe.mzansi.7 - 2012-10-29 06:26

      clearly mangaung will be keeping him busy

  • Neal Sing - 2012-10-28 20:10

    The govt gave Zuma 28million more so a lousy 100000 means nothing to him

  • nyiko.ngobeni.5011 - 2012-10-28 20:12

    Rather, to avoid the embarrassment of losing the case

      parys.fotograaf - 2012-10-29 09:13

      In effect he has lost it anyway.

  • crracker.crackerr - 2012-10-28 20:12

    NOBODY believes what Maharaj says.

      rbphiri - 2012-10-28 20:15

      not even himself

      Divvy - 2012-10-28 21:01

      That is for sure. Maharaj is the biggest crook ever to walk onto the political podium of our country. The likes of him have not been seen before and will probably never be seen again. He is the facilitator between the Mafia running our country and our obliging puppet president. There can't be any filth bigger than this conniving thief.

      Rabbler.Rouser - 2012-10-28 21:14

      Maharaj is actually paid to speak utter garbage.

      clive.kihn - 2012-10-28 21:49

      Yep, Maharaj is our own Goebbels (of Nazi infamy).

      art5SA - 2012-10-29 06:36

      Maharaj.... OFFICIAL GOVT LIAR... and he gets PAID to LIE!

      avril.powrie - 2012-10-29 21:03

      Mac the skelm who was fired from the board of FNB, do you really think we believe what you say in defence of zoomer? Z was too stupid to know he would come short, so he listened to his advisors, realised the writing was on the wall, so he backed down. Ha Ha Ha, what a peep hol.

  • donovan.senus - 2012-10-28 20:12

    Dear oh dear Mr Shower head

  • louis.langenhoven - 2012-10-28 20:14

    how big hearted of our Prez! not to mention that he'll be saving himself a hec of a lot of public scrutiny about all his sexual and other shenanigans-man's got a good lawyer and really cares about us- viva Zuma viva uhm I wonder what is happening with the penis painting case...

  • mbambo.shi - 2012-10-28 20:22

    Ahhhh!!!, YAWNNN!!!. I rather prepare myself to work. What a joyous weekend.

  • sandy.langenstrass - 2012-10-28 20:26

    Good idea, your impeachment is going to take all your time and money Zuma.

  • ruben.maistry - 2012-10-28 20:27

    Hey mac,you for saw a lost battle, now to save face, you come up with a lame excuse.You cannot fool us all and before long, the anc would not fool the masses.

  • Erna - 2012-10-28 20:28

    It took him 4 years to apply his mind and the dropped the charges a day before the case was supposed to start. Why don't I believe all these good intentions?

      Amused-Reader - 2012-10-28 20:53

      Political spin

  • carl.debeer.33 - 2012-10-28 20:28

    What a waste of time, money and energy,lol....the SA public have already forgotten about this episode. It's been replaced with a whole lot more in 4 yrs! Seems feeble all of a sudden....

      lacrimose.wolf - 2012-10-28 20:32

      We'd like to see some other precedents being set; such as people doing the jobs they were hired to do. Every day, not just during the run-up to elections

      carl.debeer.33 - 2012-10-28 20:39

      Zoom seriously has more to worry about NOW! than a stupid cartoon 4 years ago. Has it changed anything?

  • makarapakaplan - 2012-10-28 20:29

    No no no guys. U knew u were going to get klapped so please don't make excuses now, thank you

  • kevin.jacobs.1044 - 2012-10-28 20:31

    "It is the President's view that a legal battle against individuals and institutions will be an unnecessary diversion," said Maharaj. The truth is that you want no more attention drawn to the most incompetent president in our history. Your strategy will fail, cause its too late

      JohnB - 2012-10-29 03:47

      I was sent this by a friend: THIS IS MORE THAN A QUOTE...IT IS AN INDICTMENT OF THE LEVEL OF INTELLIGENCE IN SOUTH AFRICA Some people have the vocabulary to sum up things in a way you can understand them. This quote came from the Czech Republic. Someone over there has it figured out. "The danger to South Africa is not Jacob Zuma but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with the Presidency. It will be far easier to limit and undo the follies of a Zuma presidency than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgment to a depraved electorate willing to have such a man for their president. The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr. Zuma, who is a mere symptom of what ails South Africa. Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince. The Republic can survive a Jacob Zuma, who is, after all, merely a fool. It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools such as those who made him their President.

  • sphala - 2012-10-28 20:31

    Mr you want to drop suit but ANC already paid you R20m for legal fees, so bring that cash back sa well...idiot

  • badladballie - 2012-10-28 20:33

    I wish we had a president we could be proud of.

  • danny.levin.351 - 2012-10-28 20:36

    Zoomer you !d1ot!!! all you did is waste our tax money!! you never had a chance.

  • prakash.singh.169 - 2012-10-28 20:36


  • sthembiso.jali.50 - 2012-10-28 20:37

    Zuma did a right thing, we should all uphold

      diewitbaas.seplathand - 2012-10-28 21:17

      You are really stupid

      clive.kihn - 2012-10-28 21:51

      There shouldn't have been anything to put right in the first place - if he had some brain and half-decnt legal advisers.

  • Ntobane Setabola - 2012-10-28 20:45

    Another way to campaing b4 Mangaung!Those advisers must advice him to also step down as the President.@least he can still go be the President of that country(Nkandla) he buildin 4 his choir of kids n girlfriends.

  • vincent.vinsaint - 2012-10-28 20:46

    Smart move Mr President, smart move. You see, for R28m you can get smart legal tips...

  • RudiErnst - 2012-10-28 20:48

    So is the big chief now going to pay the legal costs that have been wasted defending this back into the public coffers? What an ape.

  • Spha - 2012-10-28 20:50

    scoring cheap political points ahead of Mangaaaaaaaaaaa-ung!!smart move chief bt i wonder who u will b a sad day if u were re-elected.

  • alaina.robbertse - 2012-10-28 20:54

    Good for you Zuma.You run to court every time your name is mentioned./You are by this time the clown of our country.Rather try and do your job....

  • davy.botha - 2012-10-28 20:56

    Nothing he does is sincere, can't he just disappear!

      millie.sosibo - 2012-10-29 02:03

      Disappear to where?? England or britain??

      JohnB - 2012-10-29 04:53

      Down the shower drain will suffice!

  • alwyn.vantonder - 2012-10-28 20:59

    So, what is Zuma going to do with the R20 million that he received during this week for his legal costs? Zuma just fell flat on his face.. The idiot saw that his free spree on justice is coming to an end!

      JohnB - 2012-10-29 04:59

      His menagerie is over the moon, more spending money for their last shopping spree overseas as First, Second, Third and Fourth first ladies. Harrods has a special on wedding dresses for number five, made out of(cultural) loin cloth.

  • rofhiwa.ronald.1 - 2012-10-28 21:03

    He drop the lawsuit for being ashamed of what he did. rape is rape n there is no way of saying somebody is defarmacating ur character on rape case . Zapiro was only cought on the crossfire of doing what was righ8 for his jób::: ONE:::

      Mbavhalelo - 2012-10-28 21:40

      Rofhiwa we zuma ha ngo vhuya a vhoniwa mulandu wa rape nga court of law, u are de 1 who convict him, not de courts, i dont like zuma's administration n presidency but I cannot say he is a rapist just bcs he was accused of it

      rofhiwa.ronald.1 - 2012-10-28 22:58

      @mbavhalelo úr one of those people who r encouraging corruption in this country .inwi nihumbula uri úla musadzi achiya policestation uvula rape case oba asi aware nezweavha akhozwiita naaa?? zwezwaitea on that case hovhana corruption ya serious lune zwino aralini hangavha na review of that case im teling u zuma will going to sista ndi shuma dží khothe n in every case hu shuma chikwama u squasher dží case.

      Mbavhalelo - 2012-10-28 23:47

      With all due respect rofhiwa, I am an advocate myself and a review cannot be done bcos legally speaking there was no proplems with regard to formal justice on the case in question. What could be done is an appeal by the lady if she feels she is not happy with the judgement. If the state prove Zuma guilty beyond reasonable doubt den I can also, based on legal facts tag him rapist

  • carl.debeer.33 - 2012-10-28 21:04

    LOL..Zoom has just become his own cartoon.

  • douglas.reid.921 - 2012-10-28 21:06

    This now validates the comment the cartoon was making. We the people are being screwed by this government and you know what? We like it so much we will vote for them time and again. We the people like being screwed!!!

  • John - 2012-10-28 21:07

    What utter excrement emitted from slime mouth Maharaj! They know full well their claim would have failed. P recedent does not get set by corrupt PRESIDENT!!!

      iqramy.ebrahim - 2012-10-28 23:26

      I believe the excrement is coming out of ur mouth,u obviously dnt knw hw the law works now do you

  • Montagnes.Bleues - 2012-10-28 21:09

    ANC-PF showtime chest beating of sheer antagonism and provocation until the bluff is called. Start using your own wallet to pay these unscrupulous scoundrels you use as a legal and advisory team, and you'll see how fast your support base withers away, as it is soon about to once you are impeached and indicted.

  • crracker.crackerr - 2012-10-28 21:15

    If he really wished to avoid precedents (a load of...nevermind) and to.... Listen are we are not all fools. He shoudn't even have started the legal case. But it is so easy and convenient with tax payers funding it. The costs of which we are bearing.

      crracker.crackerr - 2012-10-28 21:17

      In all fairness, he must pay back every cent the country and the tax payer his ill-conceived legal account. Fair or not?

  • B.b. - 2012-10-28 21:18

    I've told u people the president was joking with this R100 000 lmaoooo,,,I know Mr Zuma doesn't act according to poor minds,,,he has his own recipe,,,,lol lol

  • sthembiso.jali.50 - 2012-10-28 21:19

    4 some people its in their blood 2 complain

      crracker.crackerr - 2012-10-28 21:26

      You @ sthembiso.jali.50 are absolutely right. That is how democracy and the sniffling out of criminal conduct helps us to get things organised to the betterment of society as a whole. Lovely observation you make.

  • gregory.jurgens - 2012-10-28 21:33


      stewart.laidlaw.5 - 2012-10-28 21:44

      Twats are usefull

      millie.sosibo - 2012-10-29 01:56

      N I bet that makes u a dickhead neh???

      diewitbaas.seplathand - 2012-10-29 05:45

      @Millie, if he is a dickhead, you are an ignorant TWAT

  • motleleng - 2012-10-28 21:34

    COWARD, do you think dropping the suit will make you win at Mangaung? \r\nLooooooooooooooooooooooooser....

      thulanit3 - 2012-10-29 03:42

      Your hopes are too high, wait and see the outcome of mangaung,,then tell me about the loser again!

  • bryan.culross - 2012-10-28 21:37

    If I was Zapiro I would now draw a cartoon of Showerhood scared and losing face. What an idiot and a coward! Too scared to face Helen Zille in a debate, too scared to face the music in court!

  • terence.pattison - 2012-10-28 21:38

    The Sunday Times should reject the 50% payment and demand 100% refund of their legal fees - paid out of Zumas personal bank account.

  • mammudi.makgaleng.3 - 2012-10-28 21:41

    We get your point Mr President. But why didn't you mention what ll be done with 20m you received from treasury for your lawsuit? Will you take it back or will you use it for your Nkandla?

  • vanzyld - 2012-10-28 21:44

    ROFL - what an inflated dick!

  • clive.kihn - 2012-10-28 21:45

    What do you mean "he will make a contribution to their costs"? You mean the taxpayers will cough up again on account of one man's stupidity.

  • vanzyld - 2012-10-28 21:47

    Lasting solution? How about you and the entire ANC step down - then we start fresh.

      thulanit3 - 2012-10-28 22:46

      We? U stil dreaming:

      millie.sosibo - 2012-10-29 01:50

      U r still in lalaland!! U need to wake up n smell the black coffee!!

  • vanzyld - 2012-10-28 21:51

    Please - how one dimensional - the race card: at least your race has something to hold on to.

  • rjledwaba - 2012-10-28 22:06

    And I take it he did that out of the goodness of his corrupted heart-so ashamed of him and his pre Mangaung strategic plans....yawns

  • braamc - 2012-10-28 22:09

    Don't give f about you

  • rjledwaba - 2012-10-28 22:10

    And I take it he did that out of the goodness of his corrupted heart-so ashamed of him and his pre Mangaung strategic plans....yawns

  • maruis.kleynhans - 2012-10-28 22:33

    Everybody please stand and join in the slow clap. I think the sunday times and zapiro deserve this for sticking to their guns and not giving up , don't forget the bells.. Clap...............clap................clap...............clap............clap........

  • chris.buchner.12 - 2012-10-28 22:53

    For those who are wondering the letters read as follows between zuma and zapiro zuma -\we regret to infrom you, (5 pages later) , we want 4 million rand\ Zapiro -\no\ zuma - \it has come to our attention (5 pages later) \ we want 100 thousand rand\ zapiro - \ummm no\ and that's how you beat someone with a 20 million rand legal budget thank you zuma for being a little biiitch