Zuma painting vandal fired
WHEN the Limpopo man who is famous for defacing the controversial painting of President Jacob Zuma at the Goodman Gallery last month went away, he knew it would cost him his job.
Now Louis Mabokela is jobless after he was fired for being absent from work for four consecutive days.
Mabokela, 25, worked as a taxi driver in Bolobedu, Limpopo, until he was fired shortly after hogging international headlines while defacing the painting of the president on May 22.
His employer, Mphapi Machipi, said that Mabokela had lied to him by saying he was ill and wanted to consult a doctor.
The taxi owner said he later in the day received a phone call from a friend who told him to watch television news to see Mabokela "in action".
"I was surprised to see Mabokela defacing the painting of President Zuma in Johannesburg while he had told me he was around and not well," Machipi said yesterday.
He said Mabokela was away for four days, with his taxi parked without generating any income. That was when he decided to fire him.
"I told Mabokela upon his return that I had hired another driver. I feel sad because I know he was fighting for the rights of our president but I could not leave my business to suffer," he said.
Machipi acknowledged that Mabokela was a hero and a "hard-worker" but said there was nothing he could do.
The unemployed Mabokela said yesterday he was not worried that he had lost his job "for fighting for a good cause".
He knew it was a no work, no pay arrangement but never expected to be fired from his job.
"I drove all the way from Bolobedu to Johannesburg in order to restore the dignity of the president of the country because I believed people were trampling on his rights," he said.
"Even if it was any other person in the leadership I would have reacted the same way in order to ensure that that person's dignity is restored."
Mabokela is expected to appear in the Hillbrow Magistrate's Court on Thursday on a charge of malicious damage to property. He is currently out on R1000 bail.
While his wife and child will suffer as a result of his joblessness, Mabokela said he believed God would always provide for him.
This article was first published in the printed newspaper 27 June 2012