The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) has today won an interdict against Black First Land First (BLF) and its founder, Mr Andile Mngxitama at the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg.
Sanef asked the court to interdict BLF and Mngxitama from harassing, intimidating, assaulting and threatening eleven senior journalists, editors and commentators that have been targeted for their reporting on “state capture”.
This follows a protest at the private house of Tiso Blackstar editor at large Peter Bruce on Thursday, June 29 and the intimidation and harassment of Business Day editor Tim Cohen and political commentator Karima Brown at Bruce’s house.
BLF subsequently 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”, – a deeply offensive term used mainly during the apartheid era to refer to liberation fighters who changed sides and joined the oppressive regime.
Sanef rejects BLF’s deplorable attempts to racially divide the journalistic fraternity.
This has been a unifying moment for all journalists in the country and further motivation to do what we believe in: exposing injustice and wrongdoing, irrespective of colour or creed.We are defending more than media freedom. We are defending the personal freedoms of every South African.
Sanef chairwoman Mahlatse Gallens welcomed the interdict as a reinforcement of the rule of law and a strong statement against anyone who wants to muzzle the media.
“The purpose of the targeted harassment of these journalists is to keep allegations of corruption and state capture out of the public domain”, said Gallens.
The interdict prevents BLF and Mngxitama from gathering outside the homes of these journalists; from threatening these journalists with violence on social media, and from inciting harm against the journalists in any public interviews.
It also instructs the South African Police Service to arrest those that flout the court’s order.
Minister Fikile Mbalula weighs in on the decision
The Minister of Police, Mr Fikile Mbalula welcomes the judgement on the case brought by South African National Editor’s Forum (SANEF) against Black Land First (BLF). The courts remain the last arbiter to settle our differences and their decisions must be respected. “Ours is to uphold the rule of law and we expect everyone to respect the court judgment. The Police will not hesitate to act against those who want to undermine the decisions of the court,” Minister Mbalula said.
Minister Mbalula affirms the importance of robust engagement in our democracy where no prisoners are spared. This is what must make South Africa nation that engages. “No matter how heated the engagements are, they must happen within the ambit of the law. Therefore no intimidation or harassment must be used to silence those you differ with, “Minister Mbalula added.
Minister Mbalula calls upon BLF members to stop harassing and intimidating members of the media and respect the court judgement. In a democratic South Africa freedom of the press is one of the celebrated freedoms. We have a duty all of us to protect that freedom. “Journalist cannot and must never be silenced. They form a critical part of our democracy, they inform and educate our people. They are the voice of the voiceless and marginalized South Africans,” Minister Mbalula added.
Minister Mbalula reassures South Africans that action will be taken against those who are hell-bent in undermining our democracy. Police have a duty to protect all citizens, no one has a right to protest on anyone’s private residence.