BLF considering appealing contempt of court ruling

Johannesburg – Black First Land First is considering appealing Tuesday’s High Court ruling that the organisation violated a previous order not to harass journalists.

"They do not have a case, they are lying about us, it is fake news," BLF leader Andile Mngxitama said outside the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg.

He denied that he and his supporters had disrupted a debate hosted by the amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism in Braamfontein on July 27.

"I was sitting peacefully when I was attacked by a white man that is racist. All I did was to defend myself. If a white man attacks us, we are going to deal with them," Mngxitama claimed.

Judge Sharise Weiner earlier found the BLF and Mngxitama to be in contempt of a court order handed down on July 7.

Weiner sentenced Mngxitama to three months in jail, suspended indefinitely. If he, however, continued to intimidate and threaten journalists, he would be imprisoned immediately.

She told the court, which was packed with BLF members, that they were not entitled to harass or threaten any journalists.

'Any white man that attacks us, we will defend ourselves'

Weiner did not impose the R100 000 fine which the applicants Stephen Patrick, Sam Sole, Ferial Haffajee and the South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) had asked the court to impose.

On July 7, Acting Judge Corrie van der Westhuizen granted an order to Sanef and 11 journalists, interdicting BLF and Mngxitama from harassing, threatening, intimidating, or coming to the homes of any of these journalists, or from threatening them on social media.

Within minutes of that order being granted, the BLF verbally abused Sanef chairperson Mahlatse Gallens and journalist Karima Brown.

The interdict followed a series of attacks on journalists who had been reporting on state capture and the controversial Gupta family.

Mngxitama said he and his organisation would continue to fight.

"Any white man that attacks us, we will defend ourselves. We are peaceful with people that are peaceful with us. Any white man who puts their hand on us, we must send them to heaven immediately."

'We're going to defend ourselves against any white racists'

He said the BLF had a right to defend itself following a spate of racist attacks recently.

"They take our people and put them in coffins. They kill our children in Coligny. They have attacked our people in Pretoria. We are saying that we are going to defend ourselves against any white racists."

Mngxitama said he was not surprised by the "hostility" the organisation received in court.

Mngxitama’s attorney, Neo Mawela, earlier tried to have the matter postponed, saying he was not yet ready. The BLF denied that some of its members were involved in disrupting several media events, he said.

He asked the court to give him time to hand the videos Sanef had submitted to an independent investigation. This would determine if the videos were authentic, as the BLF believed they had been "doctored".

Sanef’s lawyer, Mmusi Seape, said there was overwhelming evidence to prove that the BLF and Mngxitama had breached the court order. He showed Weiner various videos, showing BLF members interrupting media events and hurling insults at, and threatening, journalists.

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