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Speargate: The 'rude' Jacob Zuma painting that has captivated South Africa

A visitor looks at a painting of South Africa's President Jacob Zuma at an exhibition in Johannesburg before it was defaced Photo: REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

The scandal of the portrait, the president, his privacy and his penis has captivated South Africa.

It centres on a Soviet-style poster called 'The Spear', which depicts President Jacob Zuma in a heroic stance with his genitals exposed.

Mr. Zuma said that he felt "offended and violated" by the image.

So his lawyers went to court today to try to have it banned, citing the right to dignity and privacy afforded by South Africa’s constitution.

One advocate became so emotional trying to convince the three judges that the display was unconstitutional that the hearing had to be adjourned.

ITV News' Africa Correspondent, Rohit Kachroo reports from Johannesburg.

In defence of the artist Brett Murray, Zuma’s critics refer to another lengthy portion of the constitution - freedom of expression.

Many believe that Zuma’s supporters have ignored this principle in their arguments.

As a national soap opera, ‘Speargate’ has it all – tears, smears and genitals. It certainly seems to have added to the general gaiety of the nation.

But this is an important debate about the workings of South Africa’s constitution, one of the most liberal in the world.

The subject of the real drama is neither the portrait nor the president, but the very pillars upon which this nation was built.

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