Slanging match between BLF and journalists after interdict granted

Mosiuoa (Terror) Lekota surrounded by BLF supporters outside the High Court in Johannesburg.
Mosiuoa (Terror) Lekota surrounded by BLF supporters outside the High Court in Johannesburg.  Image: Alaister Russell
A slanging match ensued between members of Black First Land First (BLF) and journalists outside the High Court in Johannesburg on Friday.

The standoff followed an interdict being granted‚ barring BLF and its founder‚ Andile Mngxitama from harassing‚ intimidating‚ assaulting and threatening 11 senior journalists‚ editors and analysts.

But Mngxitama was undeterred from threatening some of the journalists whom the order sought to protect.

Mgxitama had a heated exchange with commentator Karima Brown and journalist and South African National Editors Forum chairperson Mahlatse Gallens outside the courtroom after the judgment had been handed down.

Mngxitama said when some black journalists were harassed by the Economic Freedom Fighters‚ Sanef never came to their rescue.

The 11 journalists had been targeted for their reporting on state capture.

Sanef on Tuesday launched an urgent application in which it asked the court to interdict BLF and Mngxitama from gathering outside the homes of these journalists‚ from threatening them with violence on social media‚ and from inciting harm against them in any public interviews.

This follows a protest at the home of Tiso Blackstar editor-at large Peter Bruce last Thursday and the intimidation and harassment of Business Day editor Tim Cohen and Brown‚ who visited Bruce’s house on that day.

BLF has since threatened more editors and journalists with similar protests at their private homes and have referred to Brown‚ HuffPost editor-at-large Ferial Haffajee and Talk Radio 702 presenter Eusebius McKaiser as “askaris”.

Judge Corrie van der Westhuizen‚ in his judgment on Friday‚ said Sanef and the 11 were entitled to the relief they sought.

Van der Westhuizen also ordered BLF to issue a public statement calling on its members not to engage in actions designed to harass or intimidate the group.

The other applicants are amaBhungane partner Sam Sole‚ News24 editor Adriaan Basson‚ Talk Radio 702 presenter Stephen Grootes‚ independent journalist Max du Preez‚ Eyewitness News (EWN) editor Katy Katopodis and EWN reporter Barry Bateman.

In her founding affidavit‚ Gallens‚ who is Sanef chairperson‚ said the harassment of these journalists was part and parcel of an orchestrated campaign.

She said the purpose was to keep allegations of corruption and state capture out of the public domain.

In an affidavit submitted by Brown to court‚ she said some protesters at Bruce’s house were carrying sticks and golf clubs.

She said one of the protesters kicked and slapped her and her glasses fell. This happened in the presence of police‚ who warned her she should not provoke the protesters.

These claims were disputed by BLF when the application was heard on Thursday.

BLF lawyer Brandon Shabangu said the application was not urgent as only one protest had taken place outside Bruce’s home.

Shabangu said journalists who were assaulted should have laid charges with the police instead of approaching the court for an interdict.


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