LETTER: Thugs stain struggle legacy
Blow to freedom of expression as fear of more protests causes bookshop to remove display
I was horrified to hear that thugs had disrupted Pieter-Louis Myburgh’s launch of Gangster State — Unravelling Ace Magashule’s Web of Capture at Exclusive Books.
Horrified, because they claimed to represent the party that spent decades fighting to achieve fundamental rights such as freedom of expression. My horror was made worse when I heard the Free State ANC Youth League’s representative promoting burning the book.
I went to Exclusive Books where the manager told me that she had, out of fear, removed the shop-front display promoting the book. A few books were displayed behind the payment counter and the rest were locked away in the storeroom for safekeeping. The thugs had achieved their objective.
I thought back to the 1980s, when my late father worked in Maputo and the rest of the family lived in Swaziland. He would regularly return with books, pamphlets and music cassette tapes the apartheid government had banned and explain that this was because they did not want to face the truth and did not want the people of SA to know it either.
His actions and the actions of other family members and friends during those dark days taught me that hard-won freedoms should not be taken lightly. Freedom of expression is what allows us to receive information and make our minds up about whether that information is true.
The thugs and their puppet masters who disrupted the book launch are no better than the apartheid government. In fact they are worse, because their objective is to take us backwards. They must be stopped and prosecuted. Their actions are an insult to, and sullies the sacrifices of, those who fought for the freedoms we have in SA now.