Wife marches to support Zuma
PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma's wife Nompumelelo Ntuli-Zuma led a march of more than 800 people through Durban's city centre yesterday to protest against the controversial painting depicting her husband's genitals.
The painting, The Spear, by Brett Murray, has outraged many South Africans, who feel it violates the president's dignity.
Some members of the crowd demanded that the painting be removed from Johannesburg's Goodman Gallery; others insisted Murray be arrested.
Copies of newspapers that published pictures of the painting were burnt.
Described by the organisers as a "cultural parade", the march featured people singing traditional songs.
Meanwhile, the German buyer of the painting still wants the artwork he bought for R136 000 - despite it being defaced this week.
After a week of uproar and mayhem over the painting, the owner of the gallery said she had never intended to hurt anyone by displaying the artwork.
Liza Essers said: "One has to be sensitive to where other individuals come from. I never intended to hurt anyone, and I'm astonished by the hurt this has caused."
Phillippa Duncan, a senior painting specialist at auctioneers Strauss and Co, said: "The value would have increased because of all the publicity and the hype surrounding the work, the defacing of the work, the court case ... all of that gives it cult status."
The Spear was moved after being defaced this week, and will not go back on show.
Essers said: "I haven't seen the painting since it was damaged. We won't try to restore it, because I think that the form that the painting is defines a very important historical moment."
The painting formed part of Murray's Hail to the Thief II exhibition.
On Thursday, the ANC took the gallery, Murray and City Press to the High Court in Johannesburg, arguing that the depiction of Zuma had infringed his right to dignity.
The ANC has also called for a boycott of City Press, a move that has been slammed by many, including Sunday Times editor Ray Hartley, who said it was an "unacceptable way to handle a disagreement".
"The ANC should allow the legal process to reach a conclusion without resorting to bully tactics," he said.
Advocate Gcina Malindi argued to a full bench that dignity was "an inherent right afforded to every citizen of the country, a right granted to people who committed the most heinous crimes, a right granted to murderers, rapists ... the president deserves no less".
The case was postponed indefinitely when Malindi broke down in tears.
Essers, meanwhile, responded to allegations that the gallery had censored a Murray painting that might have been offensive to Jews and Muslims by saying: "I have never seen such a painting ... I would never censor any artwork."
ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu has called on all South Africans to march to the gallery on Tuesday.
"This protest action seeks to show our total condemnation and disdain of any form of art that is indecent, dehumanising and demeaning to any person, including President Jacob Zuma," he said.
Businessman Barend la Grange and taxi driver Louis Mabokela appeared in the Hillbrow Magistrate's Court on Wednesday after a TV news crew filmed them defacing the painting. It emerged they were acting independently and did not know one another.
A third man, George Moyo, was arrested when he allegedly attempted to spray graffiti on the gallery wall.
All three are out on bail.
Mabokela, 25, from Tzaneen in Limpopo, said he felt "free" that the president was now covered. The painting was an insult to Zuma, who was "a parent and he's my president".
La Grange, 59, from Kempton Park, described the painting as a "disgrace".
"Jesus Christ was naked on the cross. No one else deserves to be exposed like that," he said.
He lambasted Essers for displaying the painting. "We are naive to think we are in the same position we were during the Mandela era. We are going backwards in terms of racial relations," he said.