Complainant: Andre Appolis
Lodged by: Andre Appolis
Article: Statue of the nation – Naked Zuma on Lion’s Head
Date: 15 April 2015
Respondent: Taariq Halim, editor of the Daily Voice
Appolis is complaining about a front-page picture in Daily Voice of 7 April 2015, next to the headline Statue of the nation – Naked Zuma on Lion’s Head.
The picture depicted a statuette of a naked Pres Jacob Zuma, with a vibrator in his hand, pointing upwards.
He complains the picture was “altered to suggest something sexual”.
The complaint in more detail
Appolis complains that the picture was obscene, incited lust, lacks artistry and education, and that it was in full view of children. “The pink vibrator in the left hand of the sculpture lowered in line with the pelvic area suggest that the male is fully erect.” He adds there was no need to publish it from the particular angle (the penis is partly visible), and “there was no public interest to do so”.
Halim denies that the picture was altered.
The bronze statuette was erected on Lion’s Head (Cape Town), and was soon destroyed.
The following sections of the Press Code are relevant:
· 2.7: “[P]hotographs… relating to indecency or obscenity shall be presented with due sensitivity to the prevailing moral climate. A visual presentation of explicit sex shall not be published, unless public interest dictates otherwise”; and
· 10.3: “Pictures shall not misrepresent or mislead nor be manipulated to do so”.
These are my considerations regarding Section 2.7:
· The Press Code does not prohibit the publishing of indecent or obscene pictures – it merely states such pictures should be presented with due sensitivity to the prevailing moral climate. The question, therefore, is whether the “prevailing moral climate” was taken into account.
This phrase is, by its very nature, amorphous and extremely difficult to define. A step in the right direction is to take the nature of the publication into account. What may be acceptable in a tabloid newspaper, may not be appropriate in (for example) a religious magazine. This is not to say that the Press Code does not apply to tabloid newspapers – it merely takes the nature of different publications into account, and what readers may expect to find in those publications.
In other words: The “prevailing moral climate” may vary from publication to publication.
· There is a difference between nudity and sex.
While the statuette depicted a naked Zuma, it is not “a visual presentation of explicit sex” – even if the penis was half-erect and a vibrator was placed in one hand.
· Given the current debate over statues, it was newsworthy and in the public interest to know that this statuette had been erected (and subsequently demolished).
Secondly, I have seen various pictures of the statuette, taken from different angles. I have no reason to believe that the picture had been altered.
The complaint is dismissed.
Our Complaints Procedures lay down that within seven working days of receipt of this decision, either party may apply for leave to appeal to the Chairperson of the SA Press Appeals Panel, Judge Bernard Ngoepe, fully setting out the grounds of appeal. He can be contacted at Khanyim@ombudsman.org.za.