Police Minister Fikile Mbalula. Picture: Bongani Shilubane

Pretoria - Police Minister Fikile Mbalula has welcomed the High Court in Johannesburg's judgment granting an interdict brought by the South African National Editor's Forum (Sanef) to bar the Black First Land First (BLF) organisation from harassing and threatening the media.

"The courts remain the last arbiter to settle our differences and their decisions must be respected," Mbalula said on Saturday.

"Ours is to uphold the rule of law and we expect everyone to respect the court judgment. The police will not hesitate to act against those who want to undermine the decisions of the court," he said.

Mbalula affirmed the importance of robust engagement in South Africa's democracy where "no prisoners are spared". This was what "must make South Africa the nation that engages".

"No matter how heated the engagements are, they must happen within the ambit of the law. Therefore no intimidation or harassment must be used to silence those you differ with," he said.

Mbalula called on BLF members to stop harassing and intimidating members of the media and respect the court judgment. In a democratic South Africa freedom of the press was one of the celebrated freedoms. 

"We have a duty, all of us, to protect that freedom. Journalist cannot and must never be silenced. They form a critical part of our democracy; they inform and educate our people. They are the voice of the voiceless and marginalised South Africans," he said.

Mbalula reassured South Africans that action would be taken against those who were "hellbent in undermining our democracy". Police had a duty to protect all citizens; no one had a right to protest on anyone's private residence, he said.
African News Agency