'Now that it is a white person I am arrested' - Mabulu on latest controversial painting

A recent painting by controversial artist Ayanda Mabulu.
A recent painting by controversial artist Ayanda Mabulu.

Controversial artist Ayanda Mabulu says if it had been former president Jacob Zuma depicted in his "the boers are to blame" painting, instead of businessman Markus Jooste, he would not have been arrested. He displayed the painting outside the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) on Wednesday.

"I took my painting of Jacob Zuma raping Madiba and displayed it at Nelson Mandela Square under the Mandela statue in Sandton and I wasn't arrested, but now that it is a white person I am arrested," Mabulu told News24 at a briefing in Johannesburg on Thursday.

"Everyone who has raped the country since 1994, whether it be Jacob Zuma or Markus Jooste, is depicted in my artwork in a different way, looting is looting, that's why I depict it as raw as it is," he explained.

On Wednesday evening, Gauteng police said Mabulu was not arrested, but was merely removed from outside the JSE after he displayed his painting on Wednesday.

"He was not arrested. He was removed from where he was exhibiting his work. The reason for the removal was because he was not permitted to display his artwork there. He was warned not to return there, it was not an arrest it was a removal," spokesperson Captain Kay Makhubele told News24.

No charges were filed.

'Not a marketing strategy'

The painting that Mabulu exhibited depicts former Steinhoff CEO Jooste receiving fellatio from a black woman and Eugene Terreblanche sitting on a toilet while a black boy hangs upside down next to him. Pigs' heads with money stuffed in their mouths were placed next to the canvas.

"What is depicted is how I feel about the boers, they come from a legacy of inflicting violence to people that can be easily victimised, which is black people – we are being sacrificed here," he further explained.

"This is not a marketing strategy, this painting is not even for sale – it is depicting reality," he added.

He claimed that the police's actions on Wednesday were a performance and for the benefit of the white man.

"These policemen are so programmed to inflict violence on people, they had no reason to arrest me and they didn't even read my rights, they just took me to the police station," he said.

READ: UPDATE: Ayanda Mabulu warned not to return to scene exhibiting ‘blame it on the boers’ artwork

The controversial artist chose the JSE as the "perfect home" for the exhibition of his artwork after it was allegedly rejected by the Constitutional Hill precinct due to its "controversial nature".

"I wouldn't paint this image if there was nothing tangible to talk about, I took this painting to the streets because it's addressing a subject (the Steinhoff saga) that is hidden in the boardrooms, it is not going to the eyes and ears of poor black people in the streets of this country," he said.

Mabulu alleges that the artwork is still in the possession of the Morningside police. The police, however, have not confirmed this.

The artist says he has laid a complaint with the Public Protector's office following Wednesday's incident.

"As long as you speak truth to power as a black man, you will always be a subject of violence.

"I filed a complaint through a letter to the Public Protector on Thursday because my rights were violated, and my paintings are still in the possession [of] the police," he said. 

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