Sanef shocked by Zuma's $731K lawsuit over 'rape' cartoon

Johannesburg, Dec 14 (ANI): The SA National Editors' Forum (Sanef) has expressed shock over President Jacob Zuma's decision to sue Avusa Media for 731,000 dollars for publishing a cartoon of him preparing to rape Lady Justice.

Zuma started proceedings against Avusa, cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro and former Sunday Times editor-in-chief Mondli Makhanya in a summons issued in the South Gauteng High Court.

The cartoon was published on September 7, 2008.

In the cartoon, the president, who was acquitted of a rape charge in 2006, was shown loosening his trousers while ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema, Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, SA Communist Party general secretary Blade Nzimande and ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe look on, saying, "Go for it, boss."

The president claimed the cartoon to be degrading and humiliating.

"Sanef believes that it is surprising that the president waited more than two years before instituting his complaint on the grounds that in one instance he had been humiliated and degraded by the cartoon and in another instance that his reputation had been damaged," News24 quoted Raymond Louw, Sanef's deputy chairperson, as saying.

"The amount of the claim is also excessively high.

"In light of the above, Sanef is deeply concerned at the chilling effect inordinately large claims for damages on ground of defamation can have on the publication of cartoons which employ satire to comment on issues of public interest involving public personalities such as politicians and, in particular, government leaders.

Sunday Times attorney Eric van der Berg said the lawsuit was startling.

"We are surprised to receive this almost two years down the track. That is all we have to say at this stage," said Berg. (ANI)

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