Wear black armbands at urgent application against BLF, Sanef asks

Cape Town – The South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef) on Wednesday called on journalists and supporters of media freedom to wear black armbands at the organisation's urgent court application against Black First Land First (BLF) at the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Thursday. 

Sanef seeks a court interdict against BLF and its founder Andile Mngxitama to prohibit them from harassing, intimidating, assaulting and threatening 11 senior journalists, editors and commentators. 

BLF previously said it will target 11 white journalists accused of working in the interests of white monopoly capital.
 
In a statement, Sanef asked all journalists attending the court proceedings to also wear black as a sign of solidarity.

Sanef chairperson Mahlatse Gallens - who is also political editor at News24 - filed an urgent application in the High Court in Johannesburg on Tuesday. 

"This rationale of targeted harassment, so that the public remains none the wiser on the extent to which it is said that these high-profile politicians and private interests benefit from corruption and maladministration, constitutes a clear breach of freedom of expression because it violates the right of the public to be informed, a core responsibility [of] a free and independent press," Gallens said in a founding affidavit in the matter.

On Thursday, Business Day editor and columnist Tim Cohen was assaulted when he tried to take a picture of BLF supporters gathered outside the Johannesburg home of Peter Bruce, the editor-at-large of Tiso Blackstar, formerly Times Media.

Bruce was previously targeted in a series of articles and photographs relating to his private life.

In a column he wrote about the surveillance and mentioned Mngxitama as a ''luckless land reformer'' who had tweeted to him, "You going to get a heart attack Peter; better prepare yourself" before the surveillance footage and personal information was published on a site complaining about white monopoly capital. 

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