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.
— 567 CapeTalk (@CapeTalk567) May 28, 2012
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.
Update: Images of the painting have been removed and have been replaced by a black box.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.