BLF backs off 10 Rupert properties, threatens to come for the rest in land grabs

"White monopoly capital" is using the courts to intimidate poor and landless people, Black First Land First president Andile Mngxitama said outside the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday.

This comes after the movement agreed to steer clear of 10 farms belonging to businessman Johann Rupert, not opposing an interdict barring them from unlawful land invasion on the specified erven.

But Mngxitama warned the movement had identified all of Rupert's properties across the country and that it would "occupy those farms".

ALSO READ: BLF faces Rupert company interdict against 'unlawful land invasion'

"Johann Rupert is a land thief. He has applied to interdict BLF against 10 properties. He has come to court to hide behind the judges to say we must not take back our land. They are using the law to stop our people."

BLF would, however, abide by the court's ruling regarding the specified properties, Mngxitama conceded.

"We explained in court that we will not go to those 10 that they mentioned because we know they want to use costs to burn our movement. They want to use costs to make sure that BLF is not able to occupy all the land we are going to occupy."

Main estate targeted

During proceedings, Mngxitama confirmed to Judge Shehnaz Meer that BLF did not oppose the application, granted that there is no cost order against it.

"We understand that this all applies to the properties mentioned in the papers and does not take away any of our constitutionally appointed rights," he said, and Meer agreed.

Rupert's lawyers applied for the interdict late in 2017, alleging that BLF was considering an unlawful land invasion of its farms, including main estate L'Ormarins in Franschhoek.

ALSO READ: BLF considering appealing contempt of court ruling

BLF is cited as the first respondent, with Mngxitama as the second and member Ncedisa Mpemnyama as the third.

The fourth respondent is "all members and persons who associate themselves with the conduct and aims of the first respondent", and the fifth "all persons threatening and/or intending to without consent enter onto or damage the property of the applicants known as Elandskloof, Villiersdorp, registration division Caledon".

The applicant's attorney, Richard Marcus, said its lawyers had negotiated with BLF, resulting in the agreement.

"There was a threat of invasions which I am happy to say has been averted," he said after proceedings.

'Do the right thing'

"Our client is in favour of the right to peaceful protest, and due respect for the Constitution by all parties. I think the order taken this morning is reflective of that because it rose from a process of engagement with BLF and they have accepted the orders that we have taken.

"We have accepted their position to make their political views known, and I think that is a satisfactory result for everybody."

But Mngxitama outside court said the order did not apply to individual people who are not in BLF T-shirts who occupy land.

"We encourage you to do what is right. And what is right is to return our land."

ALSO READ: We are not thugs, we are revolutionaries - Mngxitama

He pointed to a group protesting against an eviction order on the steps of the High Court.

"All our problems, including these people we see outside singing, [stem] from land because they are landless. All black people are landless and are often divided by political parties.

"We as BLF are saying we are going to unite all our people to take our land," he said.

"We see that the rich use their money. Johann Rupert is using his money he took from our land to bring many lawyers against us to stop us from executing our programme of land expropriation without compensation. We are not going to stop. We are going to mobilise our people to take land."

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