We are not thugs, we are revolutionaries - Mngxitama

Pretoria - Black First Land First (BLF)'s Andile Mngxitama has said he hopes that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) will dismiss their case so that they can continue with their struggle.

He was speaking outside the Pretoria Magistrate's Court in Tshwane on Monday.

BLF's 26 members, also known as the #BLF26 to the movement, were appearing on charges of public violence and trespassing. 

The case was postponed to November 6, pending the outcome of representation from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), and bail was extended for the group. 

"We are not a gang of thugs, we are revolutionaries. We are not criminals. We believe that that day [November 6], when it comes, this group of revolutionaries will be allowed to go home.

"We broke no law," he said to a crowd of supporters outside court after their brief appearance.

The group of 26 were arrested on July 18, 2016, after they allegedly forced their way into former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's Pretoria offices and allegedly held staff hostage, demanding to see Madonsela.

Also read: Protesters storm Public Protector's office

According to Madonsela's spokesperson at the time, Oupa Segalwe, the group also allegedly poured petrol onto a carpet on the second floor.

Madonsela was attending a Mandela Day event in Johannesburg at the time.

Mngxitama explained a different version of events, saying that they were merely playing their part in ensuring that what was taken from the public purse was returned.

"Thuli Madonsela, an agent of white monopoly capital, did not want to investigate the Absa matter. Thuli Madonsela was there to investigate black corruption. We as BLF, we went to her office to protest to say R26bn cannot be stolen from the people and nothing happens. Instead of them arresting those elements that stole from us, from the people, they arrested us," he said.

'Stealing money'

Last year, BLF said that an investigation by Madonsela into the apartheid government was taking too long.

The investigation was to determine whether the government acted properly after failing to implement the recommendations of an investigation by a British spy in the mid to late 1990s into the alleged siphoning of public funds by the apartheid government and other entities.

"We are trying to stop the crime of theft. Thuli Madonsela left the office of the Public Protector without concluding the matter. She refused to investigate the R26bn that was stolen by the likes of Absa, that is why she was rewarded well with a job by [Johann] Rupert there in Stellenbosch. 

"We are vindicated as BLF because the new Public Protector saw the Absa issue and asked them to pay back the money," Mngxitama said.

In June, BLF members picketed outside the Gandhi Square Absa branch in the Johannesburg CBD as part of their national protest against Absa to pay back the money. They promised a national shutdown.

Also read: Absa must pay back the money or face a national shutdown – Mngxitama

"They want us to pay money we don't have. What they should be doing is asking Absa to pay back the money," said Mngxitama.

Mngxitama also said other entities such as Daimler Chrysler, Nedbank and Armscor should be held accountable for "stealing money from the Reserve Bank".

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