Zuma sues paper over 2008 'rape' cartoon

AFP, Tuesday 14 Dec 2010

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma is suing a newspaper over a cartoon that showed him unzipping his pants to rape a blindfolded Lady Justice figure in 2008, media reported on Tuesday.


Zuma's lawyers filed a defamation suit for five million rands (730,000 USD) against the editor of the Sunday Times in Johannesburg and Jonathan Shapiro, a controversial cartoonist, according to the paper's daily stablemate.

The drawing shows Zuma in a provocative pose as his allies pin to the floor a woman wearing a banner with the words "justice system" across her chest, urging him to "Go for it, boss!"

It was published at a time when Zuma, who was yet to become South Africa's president, was fighting an arms deal related corruption charge, which was later withdrawn.

In the court papers, Zuma, who was elected in 2009, states that the cartoon was wrongful and defamatory and that it intended to damage his reputation and dignity, The Times said.

He argues that the cartoon was understood by the readers to mean he was abusing the justice system "in as vile, degrading and violent a way, as the raping of a woman," according to the report.

Zuma is demanding four million rands (580,000 USD) from the paper and 1 million rands (146,000 USD) from Zapiro, Shapiro's moniker, plus an additional 15.5 per cent in cumulative interest since the date of publication.

"I think the president has been badly advised. All he and his legal team are going to do is drag this case back to the public eye," Zapiro told The Times.

The cartoon caused a political uproar, with the ruling African National Congress party's allies and readers condemning the paper for publishing it.

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