|Leftist supporters of South African President Zuma wearing Communist Party tee shirts burn a newspaper to intimidate the press.|
Freedom of the Press . . . . not in South Africa
- Communist thugs burn a newspaper that the President does not approve of.
- President Zuma has sued media companies 11 times for so-called "defamation".
- When Nelson Mandella dies there will be nothing to stop the ending of democracy, constitutional law and freedom.
After a campaign of press intimidation a South African newspaper has removed from its website an image of a controversial painting of President Jacob Zuma with his genitals exposed. It appears freedom of the press and freedom of the artistic community are under attack.
The painting has been taken down from the web-site "in the spirit of peacemaking... and from fear too," editor Ferial Haffajee has written in a City Press editorial.
The ruling African National Congress called for a boycott of the paper and last week went to court demanding the painting be removed from public view reports the BBC.
Protesters vandalised the painting.
The Spear painting - by Brett Murray, an artist known for his political and provocative work - has sparked a storm in South Africa.
Thousands of people have taken to the streets in protest saying President Zuma's right to dignity has been violated, while supporters say this is a question of freedom of expression - both of which are protected in South Africa's constitution.
A City Press reporter has been prevented from covering a trade union meeting, copies of City Press set on fire and the editor and others subjected to threats, Haffajee says.
"Out of care and as an olive branch to play a small role in helping turn around a tough moment, I have decided to take down the image," she said.
"That we are now a symbol of a nation's anger and rage is never the role of media in society," she said.
"For any editor to respond to a threat to take down an article of journalism without putting up a fight is an unprincipled thing to do, so we've fought as much as we could."
The ruling party said the painting was "rude, crude and disrespectful" towards President Zuma and wants all images of the painting online and elsewhere taken down.
|South African President Zuma|
The gallery has said it will not remove The Spear, a $14,000 (£9,000) acrylic painting that had already been sold before protesters defaced it, daubing it in red and black paint.
The BBC's Milton Nkosi in Johannesburg says the ANC has called on its supporters to march to the gallery on Tuesday.
In an affidavit served on the City Press newspaper paper, Mr Zuma said he was shocked by the work.
"The portrait depicts me in a manner that suggests I am a philanderer, a womaniser and one with no respect," he said.
President Zuma, who has four wives, has sued local media companies 11 times for defamation. (BBC News)