Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Appeal tribunal shreds classification of ‘The Spear’

It cannot impose age restrictions on publications and websites not involved in its classification process. It cannot use the protection of children as a reason  when it wants to protect the dignity of a specific segment of society and may not assume that any nudity in art is automatically harmful to children.

The board erred in a number of respects when it classified the painting, "The Spear", depicting president Jacob Zuma with his genitals exposed, as restricted for children under 16, tribunal chairperson  Karthy Govender wrote in a decision that struck down all classifications on Brett Murray's painting.

"It is apparent from the reasoning of the classification committee that it was heavily influenced by the need to affirm the dignity of African males and protect sensitive persons and children." But even though that could perhaps be excused, "given the intensity of the furore", it went beyond the law, the tribunal said.

It also rejected the board's attempts to justify the classification after the fact on the basis that it could harm "children raised with cultural norms and values that find the public display of an African elder's genitals deeply offensive".

Especially with art, the tribunal found, plain nudity is not enough and harm to children has to be more than likely, not just a possibility.

The ruling on "The Spear" comes less than two weeks after the Constitutional Court found unconstitutional a provision that would have required magazines with any sexual content to submit to pre-publication classification.

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Phillip De Wet
Guest Author

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

Basic web lessons for South Africa: Government hacks point to...

Recent cyberattacks at the department of justice and the space agency highlight the extent of our naïveté

If the inflation-driving supply strain in the US lasts, it...

In South Africa, a strong trade surplus, buoyed by robust commodity prices, will cushion our economy against pressure arising from US policy

More top stories

Almost two million voters register for local elections

Young people make use of online portal and women account for more than half of the total registered

Free State regions cry foul after dissolution by interim provincial...

Regional ANC leaders have asked Duarte to intervene after the interim provincial committee resolved to dissolve their branches ahead of local government elections

ANC unlikely to replace Joburg mayor Matongo before 1 Nov

A party source said the ANC in Johannesburg would most likely call on one of the mayoral committee members to stand in as mayor until the local elections

Ramaphosa hits the right notes as he urges Cosatu to...

Cosatu meets to deliberate on its support for the governing party in the upcoming local government elections
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×