/ 8 August 2017

Court finds BLF guilty of contempt, Mngxitama given indefinite suspended sentence

Andile Mngxitama's three-month sentence was suspended indefinitely
Andile Mngxitama's three-month sentence was suspended indefinitely

The high court in Johannesburg has found Black First Land First in contempt of court. Judge Sherise Weiner handed down a 90-day suspended sentence to BLF leader Andile Mngxitama.

The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) filed an urgent application after a group of BLF members attempted to disrupt a Daily Maverick event called “The Gathering” at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. The group was prevented from entering the event by security person. AmaBhungane journalist Stefaans Brummer said he had been attacked by BLF members at Cape Town International Airport. BLF denied his version, accusing Brummer of intimidating its members. 

In July, Sanef and 11 journalists were successfully granted a court order interdicting BLF members from intimidating or harassing journalists in person or on social media. The court order also prevented BLF members from going to the homes of journalists.

It came after BLF members assaulted political analyst Karima Brown outside the home of Peter Bruce, editor-at-large of Tiso Blackstar Group (formerly called Times Media Group). The BLF staged a protest outside Bruce’s home to demand that he writes on “white monopoly capital” instead of prioritising the Gupta family’s involvement in state capture. The group wrote the words “land or death” on Bruce’s garage door.

EWN editor Katy Katopodis and Huffington Post editor-at-large Ferial Haffajee are among those the BLF have named as their targets. Others include EWN journalist Barry Bateman and News24 editor Adriaan Basson.

The judgment handed down today extended the original court order to now cover all journalists. The judge allowed BLF members inside the court, warning them that they should behave.

Mngxitama’s three-month sentence was suspended indefinitely, but he faces imprisonment if he violates the court order again.