But after BLF leader Andile Mngxitama told this to a small crowd outside the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Friday, he said the movement would continue to protest against “racist, white journalists” by any means necessary. He also said unless Absa paid back the money it allegedly stole from black South Africans, they would continue with their efforts to shut its branches.
Mngxitama’s 20-minutediatribe to journalists outside the court touched on numerous issues, but focused little on the merits of the case in the judgments against BLF.
Both Sanef and Absa filed urgent interdict applications at the court on Thursday to prevent intimidation and potential violence against journalists and bank branches respectively. This came after two incidents of intimidation over the past few weeks.
BLF protested at Tiso Black Star Group editor Peter Bruce’s home, last month, claiming he had a racist agenda after publishing numerous exposés on the contraversial Gupta family. On Thursday, BLF shut down the Absa branch in the Joburg CBD, where one employee suffered a broken hand in the chaos.
Absa secured its interdict on Thursday preventing such action, with police ordered to arrest BLF members who chose not to comply with it.
On Friday, Sanef achieved a similar order, with Judge Corrie van der Westhuizen ruling that BLF was barred from harassing journalists, protesting outside their homes, or attempting to intimidate them on social media. The judge also ordered that BLF issue a public statement stating it did not condone any of these acts by midnight last night.“The respondents (BLF)... confirm an intention to follow the journalists even to their places of worship. Such intention cannot indicate peaceful protest. On the contrary, it is indicative of an intention to harass, intimidate and threaten,” Judge van der Westhuizen wrote in his judgment.
But just moments after the Sanef interdict was granted, the BLF, which attended the proceedings and the journalists who launched it were engaged in a screaming match outside the courtroom. Mngxitama seemed to have begun the altercation, accusing political analyst Karima Brown of defending a white agenda, claiming he was trying to “protect” her from “white colonists”. Brown accused the organisation of fascism, insisting they did not speak for her as a woman of colour.
Journalists said they felt intimidated by the group.
Sanef chairperson Mahlatse Gallens said it was up to the police to take action now, as the court had ruled that the group’s behaviour constituted intimidation. Brown said that Gallens had been insulted as well, with BLF members implying she had “no agency”, but that she was an agent of white monopoly capital.
In his own response outside court, Mngxitama first took aim at Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota, who had come to support the application. Labelling Lekota as an “irrelevant house negro”, he said the politician was aiming to create “black on black violence”.
Regarding the application, Mngxitama insisted that the courts were also part of a white legacy, and BLF had no respect for Roman-Dutch law.
However, he did not explain why the organisation was considering appealing against the interdicts under the same system, although he did say he would insist that a black judge hear the case.
He blamed the journalists at the court proceedings for starting the earlier altercation, and said that his own shouting and insults were in self-defence.
Even though he said the group would respect the ruling of the court, he said: “In as far as the white, racist journalists are concerned, we say we are going to monitor you. You are not safe. This judgment does not say you must be racist.”
According to provincial police spokesman, Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini, if the organisation did not obey the interdict, any members involved would be found in contempt of court.Meanwhile, Sanef media freedom chaiperson Sam Mkokeli said the organisation was confident in the ruling, which protected the rule of law and the constitution.