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The Spear not classified yet - board

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spear marchers

SAPA

Protestors outside the Goodman Gallery in Rosebank. They gathered at the gallery in protest against Brett Murray's "The Spear", which, until it was defaced, was on display there. Photo: Maryke Vermaak/ SAPA

The Film and Publication Board (FPB) has not made a classification on the controversial painting of President Jacob Zuma, an official said on Tuesday.

Mmapula Fisha, chief operations officer of the board, said the five classifiers had made “opinions over the portrait” but a decision had not been reached.

She was addressing a meeting in Centurion aimed at gathering opinion and getting presentations from complainants, and legal representatives of City Press and the Goodman Gallery.

“The classification at this stage is underway but we have not made a decision. We have the views of the classifiers we dispatched to examine and classify the portrait,” she said.

Complainants were allowed to make presentations to the FPB on Tuesday.

An advocate representing the complainants told the board that the portrait should have been classified for people under the age of 18.

“Our submission is that consideration should have been made that particular age groups ought not to have had sight of the picture,” he said.

“The image has the potential to cause harm, physiological harm. It is not in the public interest to have people under the age of 18 viewing that image,” he said.

The names of all the complainants and the classifiers were not to be published in the media, Fisha announced. She said no questions would be taken from the media during the session.

City Press editor Ferial Haffajee walked into the room, shortly after the meeting started. She sat behind her newpaper’s lawyers, next to Adrian Basson.

Last week, the board sent a team of five classifiers to view artist Brett Murray's painting “The Spear”, which was on display at the Goodman Gallery, after several complaints.

The painting depicts Zuma with his genitals exposed. It was vandalised last Tuesday and has since been removed from the gallery, which has temporarily closed its doors to the public.

The committee was considering classifying the painting in line with the Film and Publications Act.

Last week the board's CEO Yoliswa Makhasi recused herself from the classification hearing following a complaint by Haffajee that she was biased.

The hearing itself was postponed because the parties to it had not been given enough time to prepare.

The FPB is a government entity under the jurisdiction of the department of Home Affairs. - Sapa


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