BLF blasé af­ter court in­ter­dict

CityPress - - News - POLOKO TAU poloko.tau@city­

The au­da­cious and de­fi­ant ut­ter­ances af­ter the court or­dered Black First Land First (BLF) mem­bers to leave jour­nal­ists in peace raised doubts about whether they will re­spect the court in­ter­dict, how­ever, the move­ment’s leader later seemed to back down.

Jo­han­nes­burg High Court Judge Cor­rie van der Westhuizen on Fri­day in­ter­dicted BLF and its leader, Andile Mngxi­tama, from in­tim­i­dat­ing, ha­rass­ing, as­sault­ing, threat­en­ing and go­ing to the homes of jour­nal­ists.

This was vic­tory for the SA Na­tional Ed­i­tors’ Fo­rum (Sanef), which ap­proached the court in a bid to pro­tect “11 se­nior jour­nal­ists, ed­i­tors and com­men­ta­tors who have been tar­geted for their re­port­ing on state cap­ture”.

A protest staged at the pri­vate house of Tiso Black­star ed­i­tor at large Peter Bruce last week and the in­tim­i­da­tion of oth­ers prompted le­gal ac­tion against the BLF, which threat­ened sim­i­lar ac­tion at sev­eral jour­nal­ists’ homes.

Mngxi­tama said: “From now on, no one shall dare launch any protest at the pri­vate homes of their ad­ver­saries. In­deed, protest­ing at the Gupta fam­ily home is as un­de­sir­able as protest­ing at the home of Peter Bruce. The BLF wel­comes this and shall en­cour­age all to abide by this civilised be­hav­iour in equal measure.”

How­ever, BLF mem­bers and Mngxi­tama dis­played no sense of re­morse on other as­pects of the in­ter­dict. “If jour­nal­ists are go­ing to write any racist ma­te­rial, we’re go­ing to protest against them. We’re fight­ing crim­i­nal­ity; racism is the num­ber one crime ... we’re go­ing to deal with racism in the me­dia,” Mngxi­tama in­sisted.

Asked if the BLF would chal­lenge the court or­der, Mngxi­tama said: “Our lawyers are study­ing the judg­ment and we’ll take ad­vice ... if we come back to court, we want a black judge. The trauma of los­ing against a black judge is bet­ter than los­ing against a white judge.”

Sanef chair­per­son Mahlatse Gal­lens wel­comed the rul­ing, say­ing it was their duty to “de­fend the rights of jour­nal­ists to do their work”.

“They’re try­ing to si­lence the me­dia ... We’ll not be de­terred. It is un­for­tu­nate that race is be­ing used in this ca­pac­ity in an ef­fort to de­flect from real is­sues,” she said.

“We all have to take a stance as South Africans. If we al­low threats to con­tinue, what will hap­pen next? We can’t have a situation where jour­nal­ists are not al­lowed to do their work and are threat­ened.”

STAY­ING PUT Quin­ton Lenyai

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