Picture: @Eusebius/Twitter

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) on Monday expressed “grave concern” at the intimidation of journalists by Black First Land First (BLF).

In a statement, the SAHRC condemned threats by the BLF to protest at the homes and places of worship of members of the media.

“A free press is a cornerstone of our constitutional democracy.  Any attempt to threaten or intimidate the media is an attack on our democracy and is a violation of our constitution,” the commission said.

“Further, section 15 of the constitution guarantees freedom of religion, belief and opinion.  As such, threats by BFLF to protest at places of worship of members of the media, is an infringement of this right.”

The SAHRC called on the BLF to respect the “media’s right to operate without fear or favour", and to immediately stop initimidating and harassing journalists.

A group of BLF members, whose organisation is reportedly funded by the Gupta family, marched to Tiso Blackstar editor-at-large Peter Bruce’s house in Johannesburg last weekend, demanding that he stop writing about the family. When Business Day editor Tim Cohen arrived at Bruce’s house, he was reportedly manhandled by the angry mob.

The BLF issued a statement in which it listed other white journalists whom it said were next on their target list. The list included EWN’s Stephen Grootes and Barry Bateman, amaBhungane’s Sam Sole and News24 columnist Max du Preez.