FPB might classify 'The Spear'

The Film and Publication Board is considering classifying 'The Spear' following public complaints.

Film and Publication Board. Picture: fpb.gov.za

JOHANNESBURG - The Film and Publication Board (FPB) hearing regarding the classification of 'The Spear" painting has been postponed until next Tuesday.

The FPB's Sipho Risiba sent an email to _City Press _lawyers on Tuesday night, saying they have conceded that the time given to them to prepare for the hearing was inadequate.

The newspaper and the Goodman Gallery were given four hours on Tuesday to be at the board's head office.

Board members declined the lawyers initial request that the matter be postponed to Friday, after the African National Congress' (ANC) High Court application has been set down for Thursday.

The board argued that the matter was urgent and there was potential to cause harm to children and sensitive people.

In normal circumstances, respondents are given 30 days to the respond to the board.

The board said it was considering classifying the piece by artist Brett Murray following complaints from the public.

If classified, the painting may no longer be displayed at the gallery, nor may images of the painting be published on websites.

"This is an artwork that was published by City Press as part of an exhibition by a recognised artist. We feel that this would amount to unlawful censorship," attorney Willem De Klerk told Eyewitness News .

De Klerk also confirmed that the board's Chief Executive Yoliswa Makhasi was forced to recuse herself from the meeting on Tuesday night.

"It became clear to us that at one point during the proceedings that she sent out tweets over the last few days which to our mind compromised her independence and objectivity."

Several of her tweets have forced her hand and she has pulled out of discussions related to the classification of 'The Spear' painting.

Makhasi tweeted last week that it was sensible for eNews Channel to blur the genitals of 'The Spear', when showing visual of the artwork.

On Tuesday morning she then tweeted that it was interesting how "the media is sensitive to being gagged, yet so quick to want to gag others."

Advocate Steven Budlender argued that Makhasi was prejudiced on the issue and that a decision had already been made.

The Classification Committee will hear submission from the parties concerned on Wednesday afternoon.