Comment from the Public re: UCT Arts Case

08 May 2018

Below is a response from William Daniels to our call for comments and submissions regarding the UCT Artworks Case. We would like to extend to all PEN members and interested parties an invitation to contribute to this series. Pitches for – or preferably finished – articles, opinion pieces and artworks may be mailed to for consideration. For written pieces, please keep to a maximum of 1000 words.


Dear PEN SA:

You have invited PEN members and interested parties to express their views on the “UCT Artworks Case”. As one of the people who, having been prevented (along with everyone else) from viewing the sculpture for nearly three years, uncovered Willie Bester’s Sarah Baartman in the UCT library in December, I am an interested party.

My comment takes the form of a question. Does the statement:

“PEN SA contends that, although citizens are entitled to feel and express disapproval of any work of art, this entitlement cannot extend to suppressing or censoring that work or preventing other citizens from viewing the work, especially if that work is not in contravention of the Constitution”

apply to the works of:

  • Omar Badsha
  • Willie Bester
  • Breyten Breytenbach
  • David Brown
  • David Goldblatt
  • Pieter Hugo
  • Vusi Khumalo
  • Peter Magubane
  • Mikhael Subotzky
  • Diane Victor
  • Paul Weinberg

I am mystified that an organisation whose Charter holds that “In all circumstances … works of art, the patrimony of humanity at large, should be left untouched by national or political passion” has not spoken up to defend these artists.

William Daniels