Matter of fact

In an opinion piece responding to Ronald Suresh Roberts and published in these pages on October 10, Anthony Brink claimed that the reprint of Roberts’s book Fit to Govern was cancelled after allegations of plagiarism. The book was in fact reprinted (before any such allegations were made), and is still in print. The M&G regrets the error.

 

Matter of fiction

A note in your 24 October 2008 issue entitled ‘Matter of fact’ corrects an ‘error’ that wasn’t – an ‘error’ I’m said to have made in claiming in my opinion piece on the 10th that ‘the reprint of Roberts’s book Fit to Govern was cancelled after allegations of plagiarism’ made by me in Lying and Thieving: The fraudulent scholarship of Ronald Suresh Roberts. ‘The book was in fact reprinted (before any such allegations were made) …’

Not true. On 17 November 2007, a week after Lying and Thieving was published, Die Burger reported Reedwan Vally, owner of STE Publishers, announcing (I translate) that ‘the reprint of the book, of which all 8 500 copies have been sold, has been halted temporarily pending evaluation of the allegations’. Actually, Vally told me at the time, a couple of hundred copies remained unsold. After investigating my plagiarism, fabrication and falsification charges, Vally’s decision to ‘temporarily’ suspend the reprint of Fit to Govern became permanent. If the book is ‘still in print’, we’re talking about those few unsold, now unsellable, copies.

Presumably Roberts was the source of the misinformation in your mistaken correction, which would explain why it’s false. But whatever, it’s a decoy. Your sharper readers will have taken note that he did not appeal as promised against the Press Ombudsman’s Panel’s finding in July that he’s indeed a plagiarist, and more importantly that he has nothing to say about my report that Mbeki wrote to Gevisser specifically to confirm that he’d correctly described him as an AIDS dissident in Thabo Mbeki: The Dream Deferred, contradicting Roberts’s lying claim to the contrary in Fit to Govern.  

 

ANTHONY BRINK