Guptas get interdict against EFF

Pretoria - The Gupta brothers on Tuesday obtained an urgent interdict to stop the EFF from threatening them.

Judge Johan Louw granted an order in the High Court in Pretoria, interdicting the party, its leader Julius Malema and its Gauteng spokesperson Ntobeng Ntobeng from making threats of violence against the brothers Ajay, Atul, and Rajesh Gupta, and their employees.

The interdict was granted while EFF members were protesting outside the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg, waving posters stating "Guptas must go", "Honeymoon is over for Guptas" and "We'll fight war with war" and singing "Shoot Zuma, shoot the Guptas".

Louw said he would give reasons for his ruling later.

Nazeem Howa, CEO of the Gupta’s Oakbay Investments, said the intention of the application had been to secure the safety of their 4 500 employees.

"It's a victory for democracy. People who live and trade in this country must have the freedom to act within the law at all times."

Howa hoped all journalists would feel safer following the court's order.

"It can't be that if someone doesn't agree with what you're doing that they can threaten and hound you. What does it mean if we attack journalists that we don't like or that we don't agree with?"

'Not inciting violence'

Malema said he was not inciting violence against the Guptas, and that it was simply part of robust political debate in an election year.

The court interdicted Malema and the EFF from calling for the removal of the Guptas from Gauteng or South Africa.

The party was interdicted from interfering with the activities of ANN7 and New Age journalists, and from preventing them from attending any public political event by any political party, including those of the EFF.

The EFF may not incite violence against the Guptas and their employees through public announcements, media releases, or public speech; may not damage the Gupta’s property and may not enter, or incite their followers to enter, any of the premises of the Guptas and their companies.

The EFF and its leaders may not intimidate the Guptas and their employees, or cause their employees to fear for their lives or safety, or unreasonably limit their freedom of movement and trade.

They may not promote the infringement of The New Age and ANN7's right to freedom of expression.

The SAPS was directed to protect the Guptas' interests if these were threatened by criminal activity resulting from the conduct of the EFF and its leaders.

'Could become volatile'

The Guptas may approach the court again for further relief, should the EFF refuse to comply with the interdict.

On Thursday last week, Malema said journalists working for the Gupta-owned broadcaster ANN7 and its newspaper The New Age would no longer be welcome at EFF events and that the party could not guarantee their safety. He subsequently told the Guptas, who are South African citizens, to leave the country, or the situation "could become volatile".

He accused the Guptas of being a corrupt cartel that was in cahoots with President Jacob Zuma. 

The EFF's Gauteng spokesperson Ntobeng Ntobeng issued a statement over the weekend in which he said the Guptas "fled India in the midst of an uproar and rising resistance to their unquenchable greed and destructive habits of money laundering and downright thuggery".

The Guptas described these statements as defamatory, "absolute nonsense", and an attempt to incite violence by spreading untrue rumours about them.

They said the EFF was using its members and resources to destroy their businesses.

Malema told reporters outside the Constitutional Court that he intended appealing the outcome.

"The Guptas need to be challenged," Malema said.

The Guptas said they did not expect Malema's "threats of violence and xenophobia".

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