Skip to main content

South African papers defy ban, publish photos of President Jacob Zuma's home

By Salma Abdelaziz, CNN
November 22, 2013 -- Updated 1737 GMT (0137 HKT)
South African President Jacob Zuma in Johannesburg on October 14, 2013.
South African President Jacob Zuma in Johannesburg on October 14, 2013.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Newspapers show pictures of Zuma's estate in the town of Nkandla
  • State security minister had warned about showing where "possible security breaches are"
  • Government accused of limiting speech amid investigation of possible misuse of public money
  • Government says local media deceived public by distorting minister's comments

(CNN) -- South African newspapers published photos of President Jacob Zuma's home Friday in defiance of a verbal ban by the country's state security minister.

"No one, including those in the media, is allowed to take images and publicize images even pointing where the possible security breaches are," State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele said Thursday, warning the media not to publish footage of Zuma's home.

In response, South African daily The Star splashed its front page Friday with a picture of the scenic home with the caption "Look Away" in bold across the top and a sub-headline that reads "Even the White House has its own virtual tour."

Another popular local paper taunted authorities with the headline "So arrest us," along with a snap of Zuma's sprawling estate in the town of Nkandla, southeast of the capital.

Others took to microblogging site Twitter to express their outrage about what they say is a move to restrict free speech by the African National Congress government, including journalist Barry Bateman, who tweeted the Google coordinates to the President's home and urged his followers to use the satellite imaging service to view it.

The South African government denied issuing a gag order and accused local media of deceiving the public by misconstruing Cwele's comments.

"Government has no problem with the media publishing pictures of National Key Points, including President Jacob Zuma's Nkandla residence, as it is part of their daily line of duty. However, zooming into safety and security features of National Key Points is a challenge as it compromises national security," Government spokeswoman Phumla Williams said in a prepared statement.

Members of the media lambasted the country's police and state security minister, accusing them of avoiding accountability for more than $19 million in renovations paid for by the public.

"We will continue to publish images of the Nkandla upgrades because we firmly believe there is immense public interest in doing so. To stop doing so will be a betrayal of our duty as watchdogs of democracy," the South African National Editors Forum, an organization of journalists, said in a prepared statement Friday.

The controversy comes as Public Prosecutor Thuli Madonsela investigates the potential misuse of public money to fund Nkandla homestead upgrades, including a helipad and a bunker.

"The power to determine whether or not that power has been exercised in accordance with the law belongs to my office, other competent bodies, and ultimately the courts," Madonsela was quoted as saying by state-run news agency SAPA on Friday.

READ: Jacob Zuma - Fast Facts

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 0051 GMT (0851 HKT)
Where do hip young things hang out in Taiwan?
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 0118 GMT (0918 HKT)
The interior of the Formosa Boulevard Mass Rapid Transit Station in Kaohsiung, in southern Taiwan.
Stunning stations where your first priority won't be finding the nearest exit.
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 1043 GMT (1843 HKT)
A 30-year-old woman has been charged with attempting to kill a baby police say spent five days down a drain before being discovered by cyclists.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 0121 GMT (0921 HKT)
If it wasn't for a comic's skit, Bill Cosby would still be America's favorite father, says expert.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 1550 GMT (2350 HKT)
Obama orders the most sweeping overhaul of U.S. immigration in decades, prioritizing the deportation of "felons, not families."
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 2106 GMT (0506 HKT)
Fighters loyal to ISIS are now in control of Derna, a city on Libya's Mediterranean coast.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 2319 GMT (0719 HKT)
China and likely other countries have the capacity to shut down the U.S. power grid, says the NSA.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1945 GMT (0345 HKT)
The founder of a U.S. nonprofit that works with returning soldiers is named CNN's Hero of the Year.
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 1738 GMT (0138 HKT)
A Syrian cleric condemns ISIS and its execution of U.S. hostage Peter Kassig.
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 1729 GMT (0129 HKT)
TV anchor wears the same suit for a year. Female colleague wears new outfit daily. Who gets criticized?
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 1523 GMT (2323 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT