City Press to remove ‘The Spear’

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city press the spear

South African national newspaper City Press will reportedly take down photos of Brett Murray’s “The Spear” from its website.

Editor-in-chief Ferial Haffajee confirmed to the South African Press Association that City Press would remove images of the painting, saying “I just need a bit of time to do it.” She said that the decision was made because of concerns for the safety of the newspaper’s journalists — some of whom she said have received death threats.

This announcement comes barely a day after Haffajee said that she would not remove The Spear from her paper’s website.

City Press’ decision to publish photographs of the painting lead to a vicious battle with the African National Congress (ANC), South Africa’s ruling party. The ANC called for a boycott of the paper in order to force Haffajee’s hand.

The Spear depicts South African president Jacob Zuma with his genitals exposed. Shortly after the painting was exhibited, the ANC instigated legal actions against the artist. Roughly a day later, the painting was vandalised at its home at the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg.

There are still some images of the painting on the City Press website — for example, in a multimedia gallery and a news article about the controversy.

Update: Images of the painting have been removed and have been replaced by a black box. Haffajee has published an explanation on the City Press website.

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