According to a new report, Black First Land First (BLF) founder Andile Mngxitama has been exposed as “taking instructions” from the PR company, Bell Pottinger, that was contracted to work for the Gupta family and its businesses.
Investigative journalist groups Scorpio and amaBhungane revealed with News24 on Monday that the trove of emails contains evidence that Mngxitama was sent at least one request by a shared email account used by the Guptas, their staff and Bell Pottinger to discuss their media campaigns.
However, the huge trove of emails is still being read and evidence of further instructions may yet emerge.
The email account sent an instruction to Mngxitama in March 2016 to ask him to investigate the source of BizNews editor Alec Hogg’s funding. Hogg has been a longtime outspoken Gupta critic.
He had published a legal letter sent to him by another London-based consultancy company working for the Guptas, Schillings, as an attempt to counter what he perceived as an attempt to intimidate and silence him.
In the leaked emails, a then Gupta company CEO, Nazeem Howa, said that Hogg’s decision to publish the letter meant he had “called our bluff”.
Atul Gupta sent a response to the group that Hogg should be “handled” with “full focus ASAP”.
Bell Pottinger employee David Bass apparently agreed and said Hogg should be made an “example of”.
The Guptas’ New Age media employees subsequently did send questions to Hogg about his funding source.
Mngxitama has repeatedly called journalists such as Hogg and Tiso Blackstar editor-at-large Peter Bruce “white racists”. Bruce had written a column about the Schillings letter, that a defamation lawsuit against the BizNews editor would help to uncover the truth about the Gupta family.
Mngxitama told the investigative reporters that he did not know what they were talking about.
It has already been revealed by leaked emails that Mngxitama met with the Guptas’ Santosh Choubey in February 2016 to ask for funding from the family. He has denied receiving any money from them, though he continues to be their ardent defender.
The emails have also provided further evidence of how opinion pieces in support of the Guptas or the narrative of “white monopoly capital” were created and published under the names of people who were either not their authors, or who simply did not exist.
Mngxitama and the BLF have threatened and intimidated several journalists over the past few weeks, to the point that he and his group have been interdicted by the high court from continuing to do so.