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Outcry over cover of new Winnie book

Redi Tlhabi says an average reader would interpret the shout-out as an endorsement.
Redi Tlhabi says an average reader would interpret the shout-out as an endorsement.
Image: Sunday Times

Leading publisher Tafelberg is under fire for using shout-outs from renowned authors on the back cover of a recently published book on Winnie Madikizela-Mandela without their permission.

Broadcaster and author Redi Tlhabi and writer Palesa Morudu have written to Tafelberg this week demanding that their shout-outs be removed from the book by Fred Bridgland, a UK correspondent who covered South African stories in the 1990s.

The book, titled Truth, Lies and Alibis, tells the story of Madikizela-Mandela, including the trial for the murder of 14-year-old Stompie Seipei.

On the back of the book, a shout-out quote of Thlabi, which apparently first appeared in one of her Sunday Times columns, was used.

It went: "Winnie was a woman of her times, there was a war and she too was a soldier. - Redi Tlhabi, Sunday Times."

In an e-mail Sowetan has seen, Tlhabi wrote to Tafelberg: "I am appalled! How dare you! How dare you Tafelberg!!!

"You have been conniving and dishonest in appropriating a sentence from an entire article and placing it as a shout-out for a book that you must have known was the antithesis of what I believe and the complexity that I embrace when analysing historical figures."

Tlhabi said the shout-out would make "even the most average reader" interpret it as "a statement of endorsement".

"People hardly write unkind shout-outs. It is not customary to spend time reading and writing shout-outs for writers who are not worthy of our time. A willingness to write a foreword or shout-out is an indirect endorsement and you know this.

"So how dare you!"

The book also used shout- outs from writers Sisonke Msimang and Aubrey Matshiqi.

Morudu yesterday said she also wrote to Tafelberg about the book, which has already hit the shelves.

"I think what has happened is that there's an impression that's been created that I have endorsed the book because if you put that on the back cover, it means you've read it and you're recommending it.

"I'm unhappy . I sent a message and told them I don't want any public association with the book."

Tafelberg's commissioning editor Gill Moodie said: "Tafelberg apologises unreservedly for causing distress with the quotations .We are in the process of making amends and are contacting the affected journalists."

Moodie said they would remove the cover for "a new jacket. and will also replace it on the shelves with the rejacketed books".

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