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S.African paper pulls Zuma’s genitals image from website

A South African newspaper which published the controversial painting of President Jacob Zuma’s exposed genitals has removed the picture from its website out of care and fear, the editor said on Monday.

Three weeks ago City Press, a leading Sunday newspaper published the controversial painting titled The Spear, prompting a public outrage and calls to boycott the paper.

“The Spear is down. Out of care and as an olive branch to play a small role in helping turn around a tough moment, I have decided to take down the image,” said City Press editor Ferial Haffajee.

The picture was part of a collection by satirical artist Brett Murray, shown at Johannesburg’s Goodman Gallery.

It depicts Zuma mimicking a pose by Vladimir Lenin in a Soviet era propaganda poster, but with his penis exposed.

“Of course, the image is coming down from fear too. I’d be silly not to admit that,” she said on the eve of a planned protest march by the governing African National Congres (ANC) party.

The ANC which has described the painting as “indecent, racist, disrespectful and an abuse of freedom of expression” is mobilising its supporters for the protest on Tuesday.

“The atmosphere is like a tinderbox, City Press copies went up in flames on Saturday,” she added.

Last week the ANC, Zuma, and his children, went to court to seek a ban of the painting. The ruling is yet to be handed down.

But the gallery last week removed the painting from display after it was defaced by two men. The gallery has temporarily closed.

The ANC and its allies have vowed to stage a march on the gallery nevertheless.