Protestors at the book launch of Gangster State in Sandton on Tuesday night. Photo via @PenguinBooksSA

Johannesburg - ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu says the “thugs” that disrupted the book launch of Gangster State; Unravelling Ace Magashule's Web of Capture on Tuesday night should be arrested. 

Mthembu said the group's actions were criminal, anti-democratic and anti-freedom of speech. 

"We must all, as members of the ANC, defend our glorious movement against these thugs and criminals. We must defend the rights of the author and publisher as enshrined in our Constitution. These thugs must not be allowed to drag our good name into their dastardly ends," said Mthembu in a twitter post.    

He said he would mobilise for the ANC's national working committee to bring disciplinary proceedings against those involved in the protest. 

"Those thugs have brought the ANC name into disrepute. They have trashed our hard worn democracy," said Mthembu. 

On Tuesday the ANC also sought to distance itself from a group of protesters. 

The organisation issued a quick statement on Tuesday night, hours after the launch was disrupted, saying that the group of people who wore ANC T-shirts did not disrupt the launch in the name of the ANC or Magashule. 

"The ANC condemns the disruption and the call to burn books in the strongest possible terms. We wish to emphasise that those who disrupted the launch did not do so in the name of the ANC nor on behalf of the ANC secretary-general," said ANC spokesperson Dakota Legoete. 

The launch of the book, which was written by journalist Pieter Louis Myburgh took place at Exclusive Books in Sandton City and as it was about to begin a group of people entered and started chanting "Ace Ace" as they proceeded to tear pages from the group. 

Legoete said the ANC views the allegations in a serious light as they undermine freedom of speech. 

"Our constitutional democracy enjoins us to defend every citizen's right to freedom of speech irrespective of whether we agree with the contents or not. The ANC appeals to all its structures to observe and adhere to the letter and spirit of our Constitution," said Legoete. 

The party has also condemned calls by the ANC Youth League in the Free State that copies of the book will be burnt in a ceremony on Monday. 

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