Editors' Forum considers legal action against BLF over threats to journalists

2017-06-30 19:27

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Cape Town – The South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef) has demanded that Black First Land First (BLF) desists from its threatening actions against journalists, or face court action.

In a lawyer’s letter addressed to BLF on Friday evening, Sanef said it had taken note of the statement on BLF's website, warning that it would deal with certain white journalists.

They are Business Day editor-in-chief Peter Bruce, amaBhungane's Sam Sole, News24 editor Adriaan Basson, 702 presenter Stephen Grootes, News24 columnist Max du Preez, Eyewitness News' Barry Bateman and Biznews editor Alec Hogg.

BLF said it had decided to target the "racist" journalists in its protest actions against "racism, slander, fake news and the covering up of white corruption under the guise of journalism".

On Thursday, BLF members gathered outside Bruce’s home in an apparent protest over a column he had written about the Gupta family.

On his garage, someone wrote the words "Land or death". Protesters carried placards saying, "Peter Bruce why hide corruption", "Peter you murder the truth" and "Peter propagandist of WMC".

Read more here: Sanef condemns attempts to silence editor Peter Bruce

'Patently unlawful'

Police had to intervene when Business Day editor Tim Cohen was assaulted after visiting the premises.

The ANC condemned the intimidation at the protest.

The BLF statement also contained an implied threat against against HuffPost SA editor-at-large Ferial Haffajee, eNCA's Karima Brown and 702 presenter Eusebius McKaiser.

"We are instructed to place on record that the actions of BLF in this regard were patently unlawful," the letter stated.

Sanef said that these events could not be understood as anything less than a serious threat against the identified journalists.

"Journalists have the right to privacy and the right not to have their safety and the safety of their families placed at risk. BLF is therefore not entitled to stage protest actions at journalists' private homes."

It was also apparent that BLF was pursuing an agenda of intimidation and harassment to silence certain journalists for "improper purposes".

This was a violation of their right to freedom of expression and the right to media freedom, protected by the Constitution.

Letter of demands

The lawyers demanded that BLF give the following undertakings by noon on Saturday:

- BLF and its members will not conduct any gatherings or demonstrations at the private homes of the journalists mentioned in the statement;
- BLF and its members will refrain from harassing, intimidating or assaulting the journalists mentioned in the statement;
- BLF protesters will not damage any private property at the homes of the journalists mentioned in the statement; and/or
- BLF protesters will not impede or otherwise block or prevent entrance to the homes of the journalists mentioned in the statement.

Should they not comply, Sanef would apply for an urgent interdict against BLF, its leaders and other relevant parties.

Read more on:    blf  |  sanef  |  media

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