Zuma children: ‘We can’t appear in public’

2012-05-22 16:09
Nicki Güles
President Jacob Zuma’s daughter, Duduzile Zuma-Sambudla, has made an emotional plea to the South Gauteng High Court in an application to be admitted as one of the applicants in her father’s case against the Goodman Gallery and City Press.

Zuma-Sambudla says the portrait by Brett Murray of her father with his genitals exposed constitutes hate speech. She also says that she and her younger siblings can no longer “freely mingle with the public without a deep feeling of being ostracised by the demeaning discussions about my father’s private parts”.

She says that Zuma’s children’s constitutional rights are being violated – especially the right enshrined in Section 28(1)(d) which “prohibits the abuse and degradation of children”.

“My little brothers and sisters are exposed to abuse by other children in schools and colleges when their father’s sexual organs are publicly displayed and discussed on radio stations and talk shows,” she says.

In addition, Zuma-Sambudla says, this is taboo in her culture and the portrait “displays a disdain for our cultural attitudes towards the public display of sexual organs”.

“In fact in our culture, when you wish to insult an opponent, you insult them by referring to the sexual organs of parents,” Zuma-Sambudla says.

“Such an insult often leads to violent conflict between the parties involved.”

Zuma-Sambudla says she has the authority to speak on behalf of all her siblings. Zuma has more than 20 children.

“In the short time that I have I am unable to provide confirmatory affidavits of all [Zuma’s] children that I represent but have their authority to convey in the strongest terms their feelings of violation, shame and vulnerability at the degrading portrait of our father which is on display,” she said, adding that viewing the painting has been a “humiliating and degrading experience” for them.

Zuma-Sambudla says that she understands art and is aware of the “value that artists bring to the lives of people and community generally”.

“My sisters are professional actors having participated in local and international firms (sic) and I have an appreciation of the value and importance of what artists do,” she says.

Her sister, Gugu, who wrote a statement decrying the portrait which was published by the City Press on Sunday, appeared in the hit TV series Isidingo.

Zuma-Sambudla says the children did not take the decision to join the proceedings lightly.

“As a family we have learnt to appreciate the “arrows of outrageous fortune that come with being a public family.”

“I have in the past watched with horror at the deeply hurtful insults that have been hauled (sic) at my father’s person and have restrained myself from making any comments about it because I understand that his public position inspires a variety of emotional, intellectual and sometimes physical responses from people,” she wrote.

“I believe that the image of my father in that portrait or picture is vulgar and conveys no meaningful or constitutionally protectable political speech. It is intended to insult him and in the process insult us, the children who have to contend with the most degrading publicity.

“In our view [it] is not only dehumanising of his right to dignity. It constitutes hate speech.”