18 May 2012
Government would like to express its displeasure at the offensive portrait by Brett Murray titled ”The Spear” that depicts the President of the Republic of South Africa in a disrespectful and demeaning manner at the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg.
The portrait undermines the esteem of the highest office in the land and impugns on the President’s Constitutional right to dignity. It also goes against the grain of African morality, culture and the spirit of Ubuntu as well as nation building.
Government respects artists’ rights to freedom of expression; however, we believe these rights need to be exercised responsibly without violating the rights of other people. The President’s stature to uphold the Constitution is undermined and demeaned by the artwork.
As South Africans and considering our history we should all strive to work together to build a society that is united in its diversity where the individual cultures of its people are respected. In order to build unity in diversity, we need to at all times consider the cultural rights of all who live in South Africa.
Our Constitution which celebrates our individual cultures, among others, is the bedrock on which our democracy is built. It is therefore, incumbent on all of us to exercise our rights responsibly and in a respectful manner.
The Government calls upon the Goodman Gallery to take down the offensive art-work and further calls upon the media to stop publicising the un-tasteful portrait. We also call upon the media to be more circumspect in what they publish as we rebuild a South Africa that was ravaged by apartheid.
Cell: 082 379 3454
Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)