Durban police are investigating criminal charges against award-winning cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro (known as Zapiro) following a complaint about his cartoon depicting a Hindu god.
KwaZulu-Natal police spokesman Colonel Jay Naicker yesterday confirmed that police were investigating crimen injuria charges against Shapiro following businessman and ANC benefactor Vivian Reddy’s complaint at the Durban Central Police Station.
Last week, the Sunday Times newspaper published a cartoon by Shapiro caricaturing the Hindu deity Ganesha.
The cartoon showed the deity holding a cricket bat and cash while Cricket SA chief executive Haroon Lorgat is used as a sacrificial lamb by the cricket body.
The cartoon sparked a wave of protest among Hindus, including the Hindu Youth Movement and Hindu Maha Sabha.
President of the SA Hindu Maha Sabha, Ashwin Trikamjee, who last week led a protest march to the Durban offices of the Sunday Times Durban
offices, said Shapiro and the newspaper should accept that the cartoon had “hurt people”.
“Lord Ganesha was a symbol of protection – he is revered by Hindus and when you depict him in that manner it hurt people,” he said.
A complaint against the world-renowned cartoonist and the Sunday Times has also been lodged with the Press Ombudsman.
The ANC, which has previously clashed with Shapiro over the cartoonist’s depiction of the party’s president, Jacob Zuma, also entered the fray, describing the cartoon as the work of someone who is “arrogant”.
“The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal pledges solidarity with the South African Hindu Maha Shaba, the South African Hindu Dharma Sabha … and other South Africans who found Zapiro’s Lord Ganesha cartoon extremely offensive and in very poor taste,” party spokesman Senzo Mkhize said.
The Citizen was not able to get comment from Shapiro as his cellphone was constantly on voicemail.
But, in an earlier comment to the Sunday Tribune, Shapiro said he was surprised at the storm that has erupted over his cartoon.
“I’m really surprised. But I stand by my cartoon, and my newspaper and editor agree.
“We did think about the backlash … but it didn’t cross our minds that so many people would be upset,” the cartoonist told the newspaper.
The storm around Shapiro’s cartoon coincided with Diwali celebrations, the Hindu equivalent of Christmas celebrations.