Black First Land First (BLF) leader Andile Mngxitama with their representative Brandon Shabangu following court proceedings at the South Gauteng High Court on Thursday. Picture: Lindi Masinga/ANA

Johannesburg - There were cheers and applause when Judge Corrie van der Westhuizen granted Sanef an interdict against Black First Land First (BLF) and its leader Andile Mngxitama on Friday morning.

“Media freedom! Media freedom!” chanted members of South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) at the South Gauteng High Court.

According to the judgment, Mngxitama and BLF are interdicted from engaging in any of the following acts directed towards the applicants: intimidation; harassment; assaults; threats; going to their homes or acting in any manner that would constitute an infringement of their personal liberty.

Outside the courtroom, journalists clashed with BLF members. In the midst of all the commotion, Mngxitama shouted: “Karima (Brown), you are not white! You are black!”

Security was forced to intervene and escort all parties outside of the building using separate lifts.

Eusebius McKaiser, political analyst and broadcaster, described the judgment as brilliant on Twitter.

He then went on Facebook to say: “Media freedom is crucial to the health of our democracy. Lawlessness has no place in the making of our nascent society.”

Mngxitama declared to fellow members that they will not stop protesting against journalists.

Cope leader, Mosiuoa Lekota - who also attended the hearing - was confronted by BLF members for declaring his support for Sanef on twitter earlier.

Mngxitama said Lekota was “a house negro who has been rejected by black people”.

Mngxitama utterances were in contradiction to a clause in the interdict that states him and his party were prohibited from making any threatening or intimidating gestures on social media, including on the website of BLF and their individual twitter pages that reference and violence, harm and threats.

Judge van der Westhuizen highlighted the use of the words ‘askari’ and ‘settler’, stating that they were used with the intention to cause harm.

He also denounced the claim by the BLF that an innocent understanding of such language was to be ascribed. 

“Such language is clearly a reference to the historical context thereof.”

The BLF has been instructed to issue a public statement to all members of Sanef that they do not condone any of the acts of intimidation, harassment, assaults and threats directed to any journalist. 

These statements are to be issued within twelve hours of the granting of the order.

In a statement released by Sanef, the organisation “rejects BLF's deplorable attempts to racially divide the journalistic fraternity. This has been a unifying moment for all journalists in the country and further motivation to do what we believe in: exposing injustice and wrongdoing, irrespective of colour or creed.

“We are defending more than media freedom. We are defending the personal freedoms of every South African. Sanef chairperson Mahlatse Gallens welcomed the interdict as a reinforcement of the rule of law and a strong statement against anyone who wants to muzzle the media.”

The Star