Zapiro cartoon justified - Dene Smuts

Statement issued by the Democratic Alliance September 9 2008

SA needs to be shocked into seeing the attempted rape of the State's judicial authority for what it is

Neither Jonathan Shapiro nor the Sunday Times is practicing abuse of the freedom of expression in creating or publishing the cartoon depicting the rape of Justitia by the tripartite alliance.

The Constitutional Court has confirmed in different judgments that free speech includes ideas that shock or disturb, and that the arbitration of taste cannot form part of adjudication.

The truly shocking fact is that the ANC's new rulers - effectively the SACP, ANC Youth League and Cosatu - have been attacking the constitutional order at its foundation for many months now - by calling the chief justices counter-revolutionary (Mr Gwede Mantashe); issuing a threat that a ruling against Jacob Zuma would "take the country to the brink" (Blade Nzimande); and mounting demonstrations against the courts.

As Financial Mail editor Barney Mthombothi has written: "There's an unspoken threat of violence running through all the discussion around Zuma, of the masses storming the citadels of power should he be sent to jail... There is no doubt that the judiciary, the rock on which sustainable democracy is built, is facing a relentless attack from those whose future prospects depend on Jacob Zuma assuming the presidency...the Lunatic Left is on the rampage."

A metaphorical depiction that tells the truth and provokes argument may be just what South Africa needs at this critical juncture. It may also be what is needed to shock the country's leaders into their senses.

Statement issued by Dene Smuts MP, Democratic Alliance spokesperson on communications, September 9 2008