‘Cowardice in the face of pressure’ – Penguin Random House SA ‘stunned’ at UFS cancellation of Gangster State book event
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Penguin Random House South Africa says it is ‘stunned’ that the University of the Free State cancelled a public book event for Pieter-Louis Myburgh’s Gangster State without informing the publisher or the author.
The event was arranged in partnership with the UFS Business School and the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) for 23 May 2019.
In his explosive book, full title Gangster State: Unravelling Ace Magashule’s Web of Capture, investigative journalist Myburgh ventures into ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule’s murky dealings, from his time as a Struggle activist in the 1980s to his powerful rule as premier of the Free State province for nearly a decade, and his rise to one of the ANC’s most influential positions.
At the launch at Exclusive Books Sandton City in April protesters ripped up copies of the book and chanted ‘Ace, Ace, Ace’, referring to Magashule, who the book implicates in state capture and looting in the Free State government.
In addition, in April the ANC Youth League in the Free State Province organised an event to burn copies of the book. The event ultimately did not take place.
- Read: ANCYL Free State calls for burning of Pieter-Louis Myburgh’s ‘puke disguised as a book’ Gangster State
On Twitter, Myburgh noted the irony of the cancellation of the UFS event on World Press Freedom Day:
A group of ANC thugs threaten to violently disrupt #GangsterState book event at University of the Free State. UFS buckles and “postpones” event (I say cancel) without informing me or my publisher. All of this in the month of World Press Freedom Day. https://t.co/gzTz2pYssx
— Pieter-Louis Myburgh (@PLMyburgh) May 16, 2019
Gangster State: UFS should stand up for free speech
We are stunned that the University of the Free State has cancelled a public book event that has been advertised for some time. They did this without even informing us as publisher or the author. The event was arranged in partnership with the UFS Business School and the Association of Fraud Examiners (ACFE) for 23 May.
Gangster State was published over a month ago. It has been quoted widely and a large number of public events have taken place around the country.
PRH CEO Steve Connolly says: ‘We believe the University cancelled the event on the advice of the security department there. It is the University’s role to stand up for free speech, and the security office is there to defend that right if necessary.
‘The first Cape Town launch of Gangster State was similarly cancelled on the advice of the Waterfront security team, but we managed to move the event a kilometre or two away and it passed off peacefully. When it was rescheduled in the Waterfront a week later it also passed off peacefully.
‘Obviously we do not have all the details, but this has all the hallmarks of cowardice in the face of pressure to cancel the event from powerful forces in the Free State.’