S African pres­i­dent says car­toon de­famed him

The Pak Banker - - 6international -

JO­HAN­NES­BURG: South Africa's pres­i­dent has filed a $700,000 defama­tion suit over a car­toon de­pict­ing him with his pants un­done, pre­par­ing to rape a blind­folded, fe­male fig­ure sym­bol­iz­ing jus­tice, a lawyer said Tues­day.

Eric van der Berg, a lawyer for the Sun­day Times, said no­tice from the pres­i­dent's lawyers had ar­rived at the paper's Jo­han­nes­burg of­fices Mon­day.

The car­toon caused a storm when the Times pub­lished it in 2008, two years af­ter Ja­cob Zuma had been ac­quit­ted of rape charges. But van der Berg said Zuma had not fol­lowed up on threats to sue un­til now.

Zuma is claim­ing 4 mil­lion rand (about $570,000) for hu­mil­i­a­tion and degra­da­tion and 1 mil­lion rand (about $140,000) for dam­age to his rep­u­ta­tion. His spokesman, Zizi Kodwa, re­fused to com­ment Tues­day.

Jonathan Shapiro, who signs his work Zapiro and is among the coun­try's best known po­lit­i­cal car­toon­ists, said he stood be­hind his car­toon and the view he was ex­press­ing.

"I will not al­low the pres­i­dent to in­tim­i­date me," Shapiro told the daily Times, sis­ter paper to the Sun­day Times.

The car­toon also showed Zuma's po­lit­i­cal al­lies en­cour­ag­ing him as they held down a writhing, scream­ing fig­ure with a sash iden­ti­fy­ing her as the "jus­tice sys­tem."

It ap­peared in the news­pa­per as Zuma's po­lit­i­cal party led a protest cam­paign to have cor­rup­tion charges dropped against him. Zuma at the time was pre­par­ing to lead his African Na­tional Congress party in gen­eral elec­tions. Pros­e­cu­tors dropped the charges on the eve of the vote, and Zuma took of­fice in 2009.

Buti Manamela, then a leader of the Young Com­mu­nist League, filed a for­mal com­plaint about the car­toon be­fore South Africa's Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion in 2008. The South African Com­mu­nist Party leader was among the ANC al­lies de­picted in the car­toon.

The com­mis­sion con­cluded that the car­toon, while "prob­a­bly of­fen­sive and dis­taste­ful," did not vi­o­late Zuma's con­sti­tu­tional right to dig­nity or con­sti­tute hate speech.

"The car­toon is a po­lit­i­cal ex­pres­sion, pub­lished in the pub­lic in­ter­est, and as such, de­serves height­ened pro­tec­tion," the com­mis­sion ruled. "It has, in fact, stim­u­lated valu­able po­lit­i­cal de­bate."

Re­la­tions be­tween the ANC and the me­dia have been strained for years. The ANC has chafed at re­port­ing on govern­ment cor­rup­tion, and ac­cuses many jour­nal­ists of be­ing bi­ased against the party. Re­porters and rights watchdogs ac­cuse the party of back­slid­ing on free­doms that were won with the de­feat of apartheid and are now en­shrined in one of the world's most lib­eral con­sti­tu­tions. -Ap

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.