Investigative journalist and author of the book, Gangster State: Unravelling Ace Magashule’s Web of Capture, Pieter-Louis Myburgh posted the possible cancellation on his Twitter account early on Thursday morning.
This led to a public outcry on social media against the decision to postpone the event at the Waterfront venue on Thursday night.
The launch of the controversial book was scheduled to take place on Thursday evening at the V&A Waterfront Exclusive Books. However, Exclusive Books and the V&A Waterfront postponed the launch, citing security concerns. Both planned to reschedule the event.
These concerns follow disruptions at the Johannesburg book launch on Tuesday 9 April by a group of ANC Youth League supporters, which resulted in the event being forcibly shut down. There were also plans by the Free State ANCYL to have a ceremonial book burning on 15 April, which have since been cancelled.
“They [Exclusive Books and the V&A Waterfront] should be able to plan for disruptions and ensure that people who want to attend these events can do so safely,” Myburgh told Daily Maverick. “But instead they buckled under a little bit of pressure from a very small group who want to disrupt our right to free speech.”
After the events at the Sandton City Exclusive Books, extra precautionary measures were set up to avoid a similar situation unfolding in Cape Town. Exclusive Books at the Waterfont intended to make it a private book launch and restrict access to only those who had RSVP’d as well as adding additional security to the venue.
However, after an overnight meeting to discuss the event, the V&A Waterfront asked Exclusive Books to “consider postponing the event due to safety concerns around the venue”, according to Donald Kau, V&A Waterfront’s head of communications.
“SAPS [South African Police Service] expressed the view that they didn’t think it would be a good idea to go ahead with the event,” Kau continued.
SAPS was unable to confirm whether they had been asked to provide additional security for the Cape Town book launch and if that had any bearing on the cancellation of the event.
The V&A Waterfront Exclusive Books said they were aware of the event being postponed, but had not been provided any additional information. The final decision on whether to postpone the event was left to the Exclusive Books Head Office.
Queries by Daily Maverick to the Exclusive Books head office were redirected to their marketing division. A representative from that division, who did not provide her name, said that the event was not being cancelled and they were currently looking at alternative dates to host the launch.
“Apparently the ANC are planning to have a rally near the V&A [Waterfront] and we can’t be too careful,” according to the Exclusive Books representative, who declined to comment further.
ANC Western Cape spokesperson Dennis Cruywagen told Daily Maverick. “I do not know of any such event organised for this evening,”
There are also no events scheduled for this evening by the ANC Youth League. “We totally distance ourselves from any burning of books and take strong offence at the burning of books,” ANCYL chairperson Khalid Sayed told Daily Maverick.
Penguin Random House South Africa, who planned the event with Exclusive Books, was unable to provide comment on changes to the planned book launch.
There was a scramble to make alternative arrangements at the 11th hour. A closed event co-hosted by Maverick Insiders, has now been planned for Thursday evening as scheduled, but at a different venue.
“We regret that the event will not be able to go ahead at Exclusive Books at the V&A this evening,” said Fran Beighton, Maverick Insider community manager.
“This is a fundamental free speech issue, we refuse to allow a small number of people to silence us or Pieter Louis Myburgh and free speech,” she said.
“Due to unforeseen circumstances beyond the control of Daily Maverick – the venue for tonight’s event has been changed,” read a statement sent to Maverick Insiders this morning.
The closed event is now scheduled to take place at Cape Talk & KFM studios in Greenpoint, Cape Town. There are only 150 tickets available so those who wish to attend need to RSVP directly to firstname.lastname@example.org. Maximum tickets of 2 per person. They will be issued on a first come/first served basis. You must print out your ticket and bring it with you to the event to gain access.
Myburgh, who is an investigative journalist at Daily Maverick’s Scorpio, will be having a quick signing session at the Book Lounge at 3 pm today. DM