‘Spear’ fury shatters Haffajee

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ferial haffajee may 27 INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS (File photo) The editor-in Chief of City Press, Ferial Haffajee. Photo: Moeletsi Mabe

A defiant stand by City Press editor Ferial Haffajee came to an end on Monday as she removed The Spear from their website.

This came as a downbeat, shattered Haffajee revealed her own harassment since she allowed the publication of the painting, declaring that the paper would be withdrawing the online image.

Until Monday morning she had vowed not to remove the image.

Haffajee described her experience of the fallout over the painting as terrifying and humiliating.

Opponents of the portrait depicting President Jacob Zuma with his genitals on display have deemed the painting an attack on Zuma’s dignity.

Haffajee said she was humiliated and terrified by some of the comments and threats she had received.

During an interview on Talk Radio 702 on Monday morning, Haffajee said some of the comments were humiliating, and she remained worried about the safety of her journalists and newspaper vendors after heavy-handed protests against the paper.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) was said to have thrown a City Press journalist out of a conference at the weekend, and at a workers’ march in Durban, numerous copies were burnt in the streets. This came after numerous trade unions called for a boycott on the paper.

However, Haffajee confirmed on Monday morning that no incidents of violence had been reported yet, and that outside of Limpopo, circulation figures had not appeared to have dropped.

“But I’ll only have the final figures in two weeks’ time,” she said.

As Haffajee prepared to meet with the ANC on Monday, she said she wanted reconciliation with those who had been offended, but had not been in any way pressured by shareholders or upper management to change her stance.

She called on those who wished to show support of the painting to make their voices heard.

Protesters are expected to march on the Goodman Gallery on Tuesday, in an event organised by Cosatu and joined by the SACP, NUM and the ANC Women’s League.

The gallery is where The Spear was exhibited, and where it was defaced last week by two men.

“Cosatu calls on all workers, employed and unemployed, youth and students, and all who disagree with a painting of anybody’s genitals, worst of all the president of the country, to join the march,” Cosatu spokesman Patrick Craven said.

“But please wear clothes!” he urged, after threats by NUM suggested that protesters may arrive naked.

The march will begin at Zoo Lake and end at the gallery.

A security guard, Paul Molesiwa, accused of assaulting one of the men who defaced the image, will be appearing at the Hillbrow Magistrate’s Court on Monday.

The Star

* IOL has removed parts of this article due to factual errors.