Film and Publication Board assesses 'The Spear'

Film & Publication Board will compile a report on the artwork.

The Spear - Cropped. Picture: Stephen Grootes/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The Film and Publications Board (FPB) on Monday confirmed its classifiers were at the Goodman Gallery to assess whether artist Brett Murray's controversial painting should be classified.

The controversial portrait depicts President Jacob Zuma with his genitals exposed.

Last week, the ANC approached the South Gauteng High Court to request an interdict against the gallery and the City Press newspaper.

The party said the image is disrespectful.

Murray's work has sparked fierce debate, with the country split over whether the art should stay up or be pulled down.

The board's Mlimandlela Ndamase said paintings of this nature fall within its jurisdiction.

"We sent our classifiers to view if the painting can be viewed as pornographic. They will compile a report and we will consider a way forward from there."

Ndamase said the FPB also looked at newspapers and online websites which broadcast the image to decide whether any action should be taken.


On Monday, Young Communist League Leader Buti Manamela on said he will lead a march to the Johannesburg gallery to rip out the painting.

Manamela said he cannot allow Brett Murray's art entitled 'The Spear', to remain on exhibition.

"We are supportive of court proceedings, but in our view there has to be some action. There has to be some display of disgust."

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe has weighed in on the debate around the controversial piece of artwork.

Radebe said there is a good case for crimen injuria.

"Our constitution is very clear that there's a freedom of expression, but freedom of expression should not amount to insult or violating the dignity of the president."

Murray's artwork is currently on display on the gallery until 16 June.

Zuma is also taking the City Press newspaper to court for refusing to take down the picture from its website.

The newspaper argues that doing so would amount to censorship.

Zuma said he felt personally violated by the painting as it depicts him as a "womaniser and one with no respect".

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), the SACP, ANCWL and the president's family all slammed the painting saying it was disrespectful and uncalled for.

Meanwhile, the gallery's director has hired additional security after receiving death threats over the painting.


At the same time, Zuma is still suing Avusa after the Sunday Times published a Zapiro cartoon published in 2008, which showed the president about to rape Lady Justice.

The ANC's National Executive Committee has also condemned the artwork.

The party is reporting back on its NEC meeting held over the weekend.

ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe said the picture is rude, crude, disrespectful and racist.

He has also denied reports that suspended ANC Youth League Secretary General Sindiso Magaqa is going to be reinstated.

"To leak it in the media to say the officials decided to recede the suspension and you think that you are mounting pressure on the officials, you are actually hardening the officials attitude."

The ANC has also endorsed government's decision to appeal the e-toll interdict.

To read the legal documents, click here