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Zapiro Launches His Latest Annual But Will It Stand Up in Court? and Celebrates Free Speech


But Will It Stand Up in Court?Zapiro’s latest annual cartoon collection, But Will It Stand Up in Court?, was launched at a most relevant time, just a week after President Jacob Zuma’s court case against him folded. Guests were invited to come and drink a toast at Exclusive Books in Hyde Park Corner with the proverbial Lady Justice and Lady Free Speech, as they celebrated his victory and laughed out loud at a showcase slide show of some of the cartoons from the book, with the enigmatic Zapiro adding background info.

Bridget Impey, publishing director of Jacana Media, introduced Jonathan Shapiro, the iconic South African cartoonist Zapiro, who really needs no introduction, and said that they were proud publishers to be putting out his work.

Zapiro revealed that the title, But Will It Stand Up in Court? was a line fed to him by Brett Murray, shortly after Murray came under fire for his painting “The Spear”. Zapiro has known Murray since school, and he was one of the people Murray called for advice when the uproar over his artwork broke lose. When Murray had regained his sense of humour, he made this joke and Zapiro just added in the “but”.

Zapiro said that the cover is one of the most important things for him when putting together an Annual – it has to be something that encapsulates the year and for him that would be the furore around Murray’s painting and the recent court case against himself that culminated last week.

Freedom of the press, the secrecy bill, Black Tuesday and other such pertinent issues for South Africa over the past year feature strongly in this collection of cartoons.


Julius Malema also played a prominent role. Zapiro said, “It was a surreal day for me when I woke up one Sunday and in the Sunday Times was a huge picture of Julius Malema doing my shower above his head, the incredible irony, of someone who was a sworn enemy of mine and sat on the stage saying nothing when someone said I should be shot and killed and there he is signing my symbol and singing that the shower man is giving them troubles.” He said that the shower symbolism has gone way beyond what he could have imagined.

Speaking about the recent court case, Zapiro said, “Even though it did not go to court, we won, with the help of this fantastic legal team, many of whom are here, and the Sunday Times who paid my legal fees right through.” He said that at first he got cold feet before publishing the cartoon because he did not want it to be demeaning to women and he showed it to women journalist friends who said that it was shocking, but felt he should go for it.

He said, “The legal team we were working with were phenomenal and when Jacob Zuma’s team realised that they could not postpone any longer, which was their tactic…They were the ones bringing the case but they were the ones who did not want to go to court…When they found they had to go to court before Mangaung they started backtracking like crazy. They first tried to postpone, then they backtracked and then they folded and they folded unconditionally”.

Zapiro showed guests the cartoon he did last Sunday of him holding a cartoon in a prostate Zuma’s face, who is being held down by Lady Justice, and asking “Are we done here?”. The next cartoon was of the spin doctor Mac Maharaj, with his head spinning as he said they folded the case to uphold press freedom. He is pictured with Zapiro, Lady Justice, Lady Press Freedom and the editor of the Sunday Times, Mondli Makhanya, drinking champagne in the background.

This year also had its positive points, particularly on the sporting front. Zapiro showed the audience a cartoon of swimmer Chad le Clos drawn as a butterfly with the South African flag for wings.

Zapiro ended with an anecdote, “The people I am staying with are here and they have a little son called Ruben, when I was about to arrive at their house apparently Ruben said, ‘Mommy is Jonathan is trouble with the President again?’, which I love. I thought of Calvin and Hobbs and me sitting outside the President’s office like the principal’s office. I’ll probably be there again and I’ll state my case again.”

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