Caught in the act - defacing Brett Murray's zumaspear painting. Caught on film by eNews. Photo: Alastair Otter, IOL Editor

The smearing of the painting depicting President Jacob Zuma with his genitals exposed was a political statement, one of two men accused of defacing the work said at the Johannesburg Regional Court on Wednesday.

“It was my spoilt ballot paper,” the man, 58, said as he waited to appear in court on a charge of malicious damage to property.

He allegedly made two large red crosses on the painting, one over Zuma's genitals, another over his head.

He said he did not know the other man accused of smearing black paint over the work, and that he only met him after they were both arrested.

The man said it was not about art, but rather a political issue which had become a race issue. He would only comment in detail later about his actions.

George Moyo, who appeared earlier at the Hillbrow Magistrate's Court after allegedly attempting to spray paint the word “respect” on a wall of the Goodman gallery, was at the Johannesburg Regional Court to show his support for the two accused men. - Sapa