Cape Town – Freedom of expression advocacy group Right2Know on Friday warned that the continued threats by Black First Land First (BLF) towards South African journalists pose a severe threat to the country’s democracy.
“BLF is setting a very dangerous precedent that could very well see the descent of the South African democracy into a pit of hatred and rampant disregard for the rule of law,” the organisation said in a statement.
“BLF’s Gupta-sponsored adventurism must be brought to a halt!”
In the statement, the organisation expressed concern over the harassment of amaBhungane investigative journalist Micah Reddy by BLF members on Monday.
BLF Members grabbed and swore at Reddy following the filming of a debate on fake news for the SABC television show Daily Thetha at Shine Studios in Braamfontein, Johannesburg.
The organisation said Reddy, who is also a Right2Know activist, has long argued for the transformation of the media in South Africa.
“In targeting Micah Reddy, the BLF supporters reveal dangerous anti-democratic tendencies,” the statement reads.
“Right2Know is perturbed by the Ministry of Police’s seeming reluctance to put a stop to BLF’s continued harassment of members of the fourth estate.”
Speaking to News24 on Monday morning, BLF leader Andile Mngxitama claimed BLF members were provoked by Reddy when the altercation occurred.
"When I got out, there was an altercation and I stopped the commotion. He is lucky because we don’t fight black people."
He reiterated that Reddy was lucky he was a black journalist.
"If it was [a] white journalist, we would have dealt with it by any means necessary."
On July 8, the SA National Editors Forum (Sanef) won a court interdict against BLF and Mngxitama at the High Court in Johannesburg, preventing members from intimidating, assaulting, and going to journalists' homes.
This after the editor of Business Day, Tim Cohen, was reportedly assaulted as he attempted to take a picture of BLF supporters who had gathered outside Tiso Blackstar editor-at-large Peter Bruce’s house in Johannesburg.
Police Minister Fikile Mbalula previously promised to act against those who intimidate journalists.
He said the ANC can never agree with those that attack journalists.
"The ANC created the opportunity for you to be educated. That is why we will never agree when they attack journalists in their homes. We will arrest them,” he was quoted as saying at the time.