AmaBhungane welcomes the judgment on Tuesday holding Black First Land First (BLF) and its leader, Andile Mngxitama, to be in contempt of court for contravening an earlier order, and extending the court’s protection to all journalists.
The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef), amaBhungane’s Sam Sole and the Huffington Post‘s Ferial Haffajee brought the contempt application in the Johannesburg high court on Tuesday after BLF and Mngxitama, alongside an MK veterans’ organisation, disrupted a public panel discussion on the #GuptaLeaks hosted by amaBhungane in Johannesburg on July 27.
- Read the court order and watch the video footage here.
The disruption contravened an order obtained in the Johannesburg high court on July 7 interdicting the BLF from intimidating or harassing Sanef or 11 identified journalists.
Judge Sharise Weiner ruled that the BLF and Mngxitama were in contempt of court for contravening the earlier order, sentencing BLF and Mngxitama to a R100 000 fine and Mngxitama to three months’ imprisonment, both suspended indefinitely on condition there is no further breach. Sanef, Sole and Haffajee had asked for the imprisonment to be suspended.
Weiner ordered BLF and Mngxitama to pay the costs of the application.
Importantly, she also extended the original order to protect all journalists and not only Sanef and the 11 journalists who made the first application.
AmaBhungane hopes that the judgment will contribute to a climate in which journalists can serve the public without impediment and all people can participate in a free exchange of ideas.