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Defaced, but not defeated: Spear survives to fight another day

Staff Reporter

The Film and Publications Board had a late night scratching their heads over what to do about the artwork showing the president in a state of undress.

The painting now hangs defaced, but unseen, in the gallery, which has closed its doors for the time being.

VIDEO: The smearing of The Spear

“The parties in the matter requested that they be given more time to prepare,” said board spokesperson Prince Mlimandlela Ndamase, after the meeting adjourned late on Tuesday night without reaching a decision.

“At this stage, the parties departed with the understanding that they continue tomorrow [Wednesday] afternoon at 2pm.”

He said a submission had been made that the hearing be open to the media.

A decision on this would be made on Wednesday morning by the board’s chief operations officer Mmapula Fisha.

Ndamase said that submissions by the Goodman Gallery and by City Press newspaper would be would be considered by the board in its decision on whether to classify the painting.

On Friday, the ANC launched an urgent court application in an attempt to stop the Goodman Gallery from displaying the painting and the City Press from displaying a photo of it on its website.

Demanding removal
Its lawyers sent the gallery and the newspaper a letter demanding its removal.

The gallery refused, saying it would be “censorship to take the image down”. City Press also refused, saying it would leave this to a court to decide.

The painting by Cape Town artist Brett Murray has sparked debate about freedom of expression and the right to dignity and privacy.

The ANC will argue in court on Thursday that it should be removed because it violates Zuma’s right to dignity and makes a mockery of his office.

Two men allegedly defaced the portrait with red and black paint on Tuesday morning. The will appear in court in Hillbrow on Wednesday.

The gallery has temporarily closed its doors to the public. – Sapa

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