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Zuma shocked by 'The Spear'

President Jacob Zuma has spoken out about a controversial portrait of himself, saying he is shocked.

The Spear - Cropped. Picture: Stephen Grootes/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - President Jacob Zuma has spoken out about a controversial portrait of himself, saying he is shocked and feels personally violated.

The painting, which depicts the President with his genitals exposed, has been condemned by the ANC and Congress of the South African Trade Union (Cosatu) among many others.

In an affidavit to the City Press, Zuma said the image depicts him as a philanderer, womaniser and one with no respect.

Zuma's children have also come to his defence, calling the painting vulgar.

The President and ANC have now applied to the South Gauteng High court for an urgent interdict against the Goodman Gallery and the City Press, to prevent the image from being exhibited or published.

The gallery's lawyer Pamela Stein says they are opposing the urgent application brought by the ruling party and Zuma.

She says the gallery cannot give up its right to decide what artwork will be hanged on its walls.

"The gallery provides a neutral space in which dialogue and free expression are fostered. For this reason, the gallery is opposing the application for the removal of the artwork."

Brett Murray's artwork, The Spear, which is currently on display at the Goodman Gallery until 16 June, has sparked outrage following the City Press's publication last weekend.

The matter will be heard on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the City Press has refused to remove the Zuma portrait from its website saying doing so would amount to censorship.

The paper says it will only remove the painting if ordered by a court.

On Saturday, the ANC Women's League also slammed the painting calling it insensitive.

At the same time, the gallery's director Liza Essers has hired additional security following death threats.