Statement from Parliament's Presiding Officers on Gangster State book launch disruption
10 April 2019
The Presiding Officers of Parliament, led by Speaker Ms Baleka Mbete and Chairperson Ms Thandi Modise, condemn, in the strongest terms, the repulsive acts of criminality and flagrant attack on the key principles of our Constitutional democracy by threats to burn copies of ‘Gangster State’ book and the actual disruption of its launch.
A strong and clear message must be sent by the criminal justice system that activities like those perpetrated at the book launch yesterday have no place in our democracy, particularly as the nation marks the anniversary of 25 years of our democracy this year.
Ours is a democracy founded on supremacy of the Constitution, its Bill of Rights and the rule of law. The Constitution’s Bill of Rights guarantees everyone the right to freedom of expression, which includes freedom to receive and impart information or ideas.
While protests are part of a robust and lively democracy such as ours, they must at all times be conducted within the bounds of legality. Those who are aggrieved by the contents of the book have recourse provided by our legislative instruments, instead of attacking the legitimate actions of the writers, publishers and book stores to bring matters that may well be uncomfortable to light.
Through our Constitution, the overwhelming majority of our people chose to reject the injustices and abuses of our brutal past and to build a prosperous, peaceful, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and united South Africa.
The damage wreaked by the book launch disruption and the open threats to burn the book, is disturbing, even tragic, especially at this time when we are less than a month away from our sixth general election.
We are, nevertheless, heartened by the overwhelming consensus from most South Africans that we must defend our democracy against such shameless criminality.
Issued by Moloto Mothapo, Parliament, 10 April 2019