Two days, two interdicts: Black First Land First flouts both

The high court in Johannesburg on Friday granted the second order in two days to interdict fringe political group Black First Land First (BLF) from violence and intimidation.

The organisation almost immediately flouted that interdict, as it had a separate interdict on Thursday.

BLF members had “insulted, threatened and harassed” journalists inside the court building immediately after Friday’s interdict was handed down, chairperson of the SA National Editors Forum (Sanef) Mahlatse Gallens said of a confrontation caught on video.

Among the threats hurled at editors was that “white people are going to die with you”.

That was minutes after judge Corrie van der Westhuizen held that the BLF’s “undertaking to only advance and hold peaceful protests rings hollow”, and that BLF threats could not be interpreted as harmless.

“The use of language such as ‘askari’ and ‘settler’ in the particular context speaks of an intention to cause harm, whether directly or indirectly,” Van der Westhuizen said, in granting the interdict Sanef had requested.

A hour later BLF leader Andile Mngxitama led his supporters in the chant “one settler, one bullet” outside the court building.

In terms of Van der Westhuizen’s order the BLF may not harass or assault journalists, and may not protest outside the houses of journalists.

The BLF had until midnight on Friday to inform its members of the order, Van der Westhuizen said.

The BLF has a similar obligation under an urgent interdict granted to banking group Absa on Thursday evening. In terms of a temporary order, the BLF was interdicted from trespassing at Absa branches, damaging the company’s property, or intimidating its staff or customers. It was also required to post the order to its website and publish the document via its Twitter feed.

By lunchtime on Friday the BLF had not complied with those instructions to publish. Instead Mngxitama promised to continue his efforts “by any means necessary”.

In an affidavit on Thursday, Absa said that BLF members had marched from the court where the Sanef application had been heard to a nearby bank branch and tried to force their way inside. “There was a struggle at the revolving door at the entrance to the branch, and in the course of that struggle the revolving door was forcefully slammed against the hand of a customer whose hand was broken,” the bank said.

The BLF has demanded that Absa pay the state R1.25-billion in terms of a report by the Public Protector on an apartheid-era bailout. It launched that campaign after the Public Protector started investigating state capture allegations against the Gupta family, insisting that the Gupta investigation had to be broadened to include allegations against Absa and other “white” companies. In one instance it made that demand while holding hostage staff in the offices of the Public Protector.

On Thursday the BLF had suggested that Van der Westhuizen was biased in favour of white people, that black editors were the puppets of white people, and also claimed that its Twitter account had been hacked and so it was not responsible for some of the statements published in its name.

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Phillip De Wet
Guest Author
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