Artist Brett Murray's controversial painting.

A third person was arrested for trying to deface “The Spear” in the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

He tried to spray paint the word “respect” on a wall, but only managed to get as far as “res” before he was stopped by a security guard and taken to the Rosebank police station.

There he joined two other people who earlier allegedly defaced the Brett Murray painting depicting President Jacob Zuma. One of them painted a red cross over Zuma's head and another over his genitals. The second person, then smeared black paint over the work.

This occurred hours after the High Court in Johannesburg set down Thursday for the ANC's application to have “The Spear” removed from display.

The application also seeks the removal of the image from the website of City Press. - Sapa