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Johannesburg - Cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro has defended claims that his recent drawing alluding to the dragging of taxi driver Mido Macia behind a police is van insensitive.
“The concept for the cartoon was to use the brutal dragging of Macia as a metaphor for the image of our nation in the eyes of the world,” Shapiro, better known as Zapiro, wrote in an opinion piece published in the Sunday Times.
He was responding to a reader's letter from a Jeff Nyoka in which he questioned whether Zapiro considered how Macia's relatives would feel if they saw his death being “cartooned”.
The cartoon depicts a man chained to the back of a police van, being dragged along the street. His mouth is open, as if screaming in agony, and on his clothing are the words “SA's reputation”.
“The face is not a caricature of Macia's, nor is there a label identifying him by name,” he wrote.
Zapiro said he was commenting on South Africa's reputation.
“We South Africans and our reputation are being dragged and shredded by police brutality, as well as our own endemic violence. Implicit in the cartoon, through the use of the word 'reputation', are references to other recent acts of violence that have shocked the world.”
Zapiro cited the gang rape and murder of Bredasdorp teenager Anene Booysen and the shooting of Reeva Steenkamp by paralympian Oscar Pistorius as examples.
Macia was dragged behind the van on Tuesday, February 26. He died later that day in the holding cells of the Daveyton police station.
The bail application of the nine policemen accused of causing his death resumes on Monday. - Sapa