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‘The Spear’ case postponed

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The case against two men accused of vandalising a painting depicting President Jacob Zuma with his genitals exposed has been postponed until September 4.

On Thursday, magistrate Johan Engelbrecht let rip with a rebuke lasting five minutes after prosecutor Frederick Bukes complained that the investigating officer had not fulfilled any of the investigative requirements, leading to the request for a postponement.

“This cannot be tolerated,” Engelbrecht said.

He called the police's failure to do their work a “form of police brutality”, because the cases of people still in the cells could be heard in the time they wasted.

He said he would not hesitate to strike the matter from the roll if the police were still not ready by the next date.

Barend la Grange and Louis Mabokela had waited patiently for the court to start, without the crowds and loud debate of previous months.

Both said they were fine as they moved into the dock.

They are accused of defacing Brett Murray's painting “The Spear” at the Goodman Gallery on May 22.

At the height of a debate over whether the painting was morally acceptable, it was smeared with red and black paint, obscuring Zuma's face and crotch.

At the time, the ANC had been planning a court application to have the painting removed from public display.

La Grange said earlier the gallery and the artist had the right to display the painting, but once their point had been made, the painting should have been taken down.

“A high court must get involved for a painting? It took me 15 seconds to get rid of the painting,” he said.

Co-accused Mabokela, a taxi driver, accompanied by his uncle and a group of ANC supporters outside the court at a previous appearance, had said he had been covering what he regarded an insult to Zuma.

“I was covering the insult to the president. They insult the president. It's my president. It's an insult to us, (to) all people.”

Mabokela has reportedly since been fired for claiming to be sick the day of his arrest. He told the Sowetan it was worth losing his job “in order to restore the dignity of the president”.

He and La Grange are out on bail of R1 000 each. Neither have been asked to plead. They face charges of malicious damage to property.

A third person, George Moyo, was arrested for spray-painting on a wall outside the Goodman Gallery. He had appeared in the Hillbrow Magistrate's Court separately and was also out on R1 000 bail.

A security guard had also been charged with assaulting Mabokela during his arrest. – Sapa


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