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Right to dignity only applies to person, not President

The right to dignity and privacy only apply to President Jacob Zuma as a person, not in his capacity as the ANC's or the country's president, the High Court in Johannesburg heard on Thursday.

(File image) President Jacob Zuma. Photo: Jacques Naude. Credit: Independent Newspapers

“(The right to) dignity and privacy do not apply to the second applicant (the ANC), and the first applicant (Zuma) in his capacity as president of South Africa and as president of the ANC,” said Judge Neels Claassen, dictating a note into the court record.

The African National Congress is applying to have artist Brett Murray's painting “The Spear” removed from public display. It depicts Zuma with his genitals exposed.

Advocate Gcina Malindi, representing Zuma, had submitted that Zuma's Constitutional right to dignity had been infringed by the painting.

Zuma felt the painting violated his dignity as a president in those capacities, but the court heard that this right in the Constitution only applies to a human being.

Malindi said the right to dignity, in terms of Section 10 of the Constitution, could never be taken away from anyone, even during a state of emergency.

The court also heard that the application to the court had been changed.

Originally it was an urgent interdict that the painting be removed from the Goodman Gallery, and images of it from the City Press website.

But now Zuma, the ANC, and Zuma's children want the painting and images of it not to be shown anywhere.

Malindi could not immediately explain how this would be achieved, given its wide distribution on the internet.

Those in the court room include ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe and the ANC's Tony Yengeni, as well as party spokesman Jackson Mthembu.

The case continues. - Sapa

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