Despite book burning threats Penguin won’t silence Gangster State

Penguin media statement

Penguin Random House is appalled at the behaviour of those who disrupted the launch of Gangster State at Sandton City yesterday evening. We are equally concerned that members of the ANC Youth League have threatened to convene a mass book-burning in Bloemfontein.

Gangster State screenshotThese scenes are more reminiscent of Nazi-era Germany than the free society envisaged in our hard-won Constitution. In a democratic South Africa, everybody is free to disagree with a book. But nobody should be free to destroy property and intimidate people.

We welcome the ANC’s statement condemning those who undermine citizens’ freedom to speak, write and publish. We specifically call on the leadership of the ANC, under President Cyril Ramaphosa, to personally ensure that there will be no further disruptions or violence at Gangster State events in the coming days and weeks.

We would like to thank all those engaging critically with the book, and we encourage all peace-loving citizens and members of the media to attend future Gangster State events to take the discussion further. The next book launch will be tomorrow, Thursday 11 April at 18:00 for 18:30 at Exclusive Books V&A Waterfront, Cape Town, and will be moderated by Adriaan Basson.

We hope that Ace Magashule and his supporters get the message that no amount of intimidation will deter us. Whether it is threats to go to court, the disruption of book launches or the burning of books, we will not be silenced.