Cartoonist Zapiro, aka Jonathan Shapiro, has done it again: he has produced a cartoon about the Protection of Information Bill that has President Jacob Zuma apparently preparing to “rape” a woman labelled “Free Speech”.

Social networks were buzzing about the cartoon in yesterday’s Mail & Guardian.

While the cartoon depicts a man titled “Govt” with his trousers unzipped facing a screaming woman being held down by a man labelled “ANC”, the first is clearly Zuma, complete with showerhead, and the second Gwede Mantashe, the ANC’s secretary-general. Next to them on the floor, her dress torn and a discarded pair of scales beside her, is an apparent rape victim, shouting “Fight, sister, fight!”

The cartoon is the latest in a series of Lady Justice cartoons. Zuma is currently suing Shapiro and Avusa Media for R5 million for defamation for the 2008 cartoon printed in the Sunday Times.

Yesterday Shapiro said: “Careful thought was given to it. I discussed it with the editor (Nic Dawes) as I always do when a cartoon has the potential to be explosive.”

He said he felt strongly about the serious threat posed by the bill. “Silencing the media and whistleblowers is terrible. I wanted to communicate the need to fight for freedom of expression and free speech. I’m angry and upset about the bill. The whole of society will be badly affected. It’s appalling and it’s not what our constitution stands for.”

Mail & Guardian editor Dawes said: “It certainly makes a strong and hard statement. Given what’s at stake – that a fundamental principle of our democracy is under attack – the image is justified.”

Social networking sites were buzzing. IvoVegter tweeted: “Wow. Let’s hear it for @zapiro. Worth getting sued for, friend.”

CJbatz tweeted: “The new Zapiro cartoon is more disturbing than funny, but sadly very true.”

On Facebook, Zamile Mkontwana wrote on the cartoonist’s wall: “Zapiro that’s a classic”, and Vivienne Brown wrote: “You couldn’t have put it better.”

Zuma’s spokesman Zizi Kodwa could not be reached for comment. - Weekend Argus