/ 4 July 2017

Editors’ forum asks court to interdict Black First Land First

Black First Land First has been vocal in its defence against the suggestion that the state is captured by the Guptas.
Black First Land First has been vocal in its defence against the suggestion that the state is captured by the Guptas.

The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) on Tuesday filed an urgent application in the high court to interdict the Black First Land First (BLF) group after it allegedly intimidated, harassed and threatened journalists.

Sanef has asked that the court prevents BLF from harassing, intimidating and threatening journalists it named in a statement where it “warns white journalists”. BLF accused seven people of “covering up of white corruption under the guise of journalism”. They include:

Peter Bruce (Tiso Blackstar editor-at-large)

Sam Sole (amaBhungane journalist)

Adriaan Basson (News24 editor)

Stephen Grootes (Radio 702 presenter)

Max du Preez (independent columnist)

Barry Bateman (Eyewitness News reporter)

Alec Hogg (Biznews publisher)

The group, led by Andile Mngxitama, also named HuffPost editor-at-large Ferial Haffajee, political analyst Karima Brown, and columnist Eusebius McKaiser – who writes for the Mail & Guardian – as being defenders of white monopoly capital. Eyewitness News editor Katy Katopodis was later added to the BLF list. The group has threatened to protest outside the private homes of journalists it disagrees with.

The BLF has already protested outside Bruce’s house, where Sanef says they harassed and intimidated Business Day editor Tim Cohen and Brown. Cohen was reportedly assaulted as he tried to photograph BLF protestors.  

Sanef chairperson Mahlatse Gallens said in the forum’s founding affidavit that the threats are an attempt to silence media reports on state capture.

“The concerns around state capture are rife. Not a day goes by that we as South Africans are not faced with the pervasive impact of its corruption and maladministration. It is important that free and independent journalism is brought to bear on these reports because the media is also a catalyst of peace, dialogue and understanding, which will create the framework for the public to digest these reports within the bounds of the rule of law. If we are perceived in any way as falsifying information because we are being threatened, public debate becomes fractured, polarised and I daresay, volatile as a consequence of segments of society perceiving themselves as being misled,” Gallens stated.

Sanef’s application has already been served on BLF and Mngxitama, but on Tuesday morning McKaiser received a tweet from Mngxitama, which advised him to drink “Biko syrup”. The tweet appears to suggest that McKaiser believes “white is right”.

The  South African Human Rights Commission and Police Minister Fikile Mbalula have condemned BLF’s media threats.