At a second launch in Cape Town for investigative journalist Pieter-Louis Myburgh’s Gangster State: Unravelling Ace Magashule’s Web of Capture, CEO of Exclusive Books, Grattan Kirk, apologised for the cancellation of the initial Cape Town launch, which was meant to take place at the book store last week but was moved to Cape Talk studios in Somerset Square, Greenpoint after security concerns.
This followed the disruption of the first Johannesburg launch of the book at Exclusive Books in Sandton City by protesters.
What started out as a very well-attended function in the upmarket mall, descended into chaos when the protesters disrupted proceedings by singing loudly, taking out “Stratcom State” posters and waving them about.
Kirk said that Exclusive Books felt “hamstrung” after a combination of fears following the Johannesburg launch and a lack of capacity from the South African Police Services (Saps), who were dealing with service delivery protests at the time. This all led to the decision to call off the launch after a three-way meeting.
He added that while he had put the safety of his customers first, he was “sincerely” apologetic.
The book deals with allegations of bribery and corruption involving ANC secretary general Ace Magashule during his tenure as Free State premier and his connections to the infamous Gupta family.
Magashule himself said he was not at liberty to comment on the numerous allegations of rampant corruption and his heading up a well-organised state capture network, among other things, because he is reportedly considering approaching the courts.
“Let me not enter that space because I’m only worried because I’m considering the legal route. All the time you write allegations, you don’t write facts,” Magashule said as he addressed journalists in Pretoria on the sidelines of the governing party’s special national executive committee meeting in Irene.
The ANC first defended Magashule in a statement after Sunday newspapers published allegations contained in the book, but later retracted the statement.
The party also distanced itself from the disruption of the book launch.
It was also reported at the time that the Free State ANC Youth League is allegedly stuck with a “garage full” of copies of the book as well as apartheid-era flags, after an intervention by Luthuli House poured cold water on their plans to burn the items.
(Compiled by Daniel Friedman. Background reporting, Chisom Jenniffer Okoye and ANA)