We will suffocate those who march against journalists - Mbalula

2017-07-02 19:47
Police Minister Fikile Mbalula (File, AFP)

Police Minister Fikile Mbalula (File, AFP)

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Johannesburg - People marching to journalists' homes will be suffocated, Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula warned on Sunday.

Mbalula’s warning comes after Black First Land First supporters protested outside Tiso Blackstar editor-at-large Peter Bruce's home on Thursday morning. The organisation on Friday released a list of journalists they were going to target.

Mbalula condemned BLF, saying that he would use a harsh hand against people who marched to journalists' homes to intimidate them.

A group, dressed in the name of “MK Foundation”, also protested at South African Communist Party deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila’s house in May.

"When people march to Solly Mapaila's house, we must hit them hard, and when they march to Peter Bruce's, we must hit them hard. When you come to my house I [will] finish you. "Police have a clear response, suffocate these people."

Mbalula 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."

Free speech

He added that journalists had a right to freedom of speech.

"The day we allow you to march to people's houses... we will be wrong."

The protest at Bruce's Johannesburg home came after BLF issued a statement on Thursday, accusing the "white-owned media" of unleashing "a massive campaign against the truth", and calling for protest action at Bruce's home.

Journalist Karima Brown noted on Facebook that protesters had attacked her verbally and physically as she took photos.

Business Day editor Tim Cohen was reportedly manhandled when he arrived at the scene.

The group apparently told police they would go to Cohen's home on Friday.

On his Twitter account, Bruce posted a video of the protest and said the action was a response to a column he had written that was published on Thursday morning.

The column was titled The price of writing about the Guptas and detailed his belief that the family had approved and paid for surveillance. On June 19, 2017, a site called the WMC Leaks published an "exposé" about Bruce and claimed he was having an extramarital affair. He was followed by an "investigative photojournalist" in 2016.

In his column, Bruce said someone had taken pictures of him and his wife leaving their house for a walk with their dogs; pictures of him having coffee with friends, and other of him visiting the offices of psychologists as he looked for help for a relative, among other daily activities.

"What was done to me was a criminal act and I will obviously seek legal advice on how, or even if, to proceed," he said.

The South African National Editors' Forum on Friday demanded that the BLF desists from its threatening actions against journalists, or face court action.

Read the article here: Editors' Forum considers legal action against BLF over threats to journalists 

Read more on:    fikile mbalula  |  johannesburg  |  blf

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