A video released on Twitter by Peter Elsmore has called into question the assertion by BLF leader Andile Mngxitama that he was attacked by “a white man” this week.
In response to an allegation from the SA National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) that Mngxitama’s Black First Land First (BLF) disrupted an amaBhungane meeting in Braamfontein on Thursday night, Mngxitama said they were just being racist.
AmaBhungane’s Townhall, hosted by top journalists in Braamfontein, was allegedly disrupted by Mngxitama and a few of his supporters, who reportedly assaulted a journalist.
However, Mngxitama says he was the one assaulted by a “white man”.
The event was organised by investigative journalist group amaBhungane to discuss the leaked Gupta emails. Mngxitama and his group broke into song and started howling while investigative journalist Sam Sole was introducing invited guests.
Sanef wants the BLF to be charged with violating a high court interdict against them to prevent them from attacking or intimidating journalists. Sanef chairperson Mahlatse Gallens told news channel eNCA they were encouraging members of the public to go to the police and lay complaints.
“And hopefully we will see the police acting.”
However, Mngxitama says the BLF had nothing to do with what had happened. He told eNCA that the BLF had in fact opened their own case of “assault and racism” after a man allegedly hit him at the event.
“I was sitting there peacefully. I don’t even know how you media are associating Black First Land First with what happened … I arrived at the event, I sat down peacefully, waiting for my turn when it was question and answer time because I needed to expose the lies that have been fed by amaBhungane on this fake news that they produce on the basis of these so-called emails leaks.
“I came to dance as a member of the party who was interested. I don’t know who the people are who arrived singing, but these white men … because they are racists, any black person who takes action that they believe is wrong, they will pin that on us.”
He alleged this was because they needed to silence the BLF to please their funders and sponsors, “white monopoly capital”.
AmaBhungane journalist Micah Reddy told the news channel that Mngxitama’s attempts to twist the truth were “risible”, as what happened was a “clearly orchestrated attempt by the BLF to disrupt proceedings and intimidate journalists as they have been doing for far too long now”.
He said the townhall event had been meant to help the public understand the #GuptaLeaks. He explained that they had initially allowed Mngxitama and his BLF entourage to enter the venue. They were soon thereafter followed by a group of people who were singing, being rowdy and making a lot of noise.
“They were politely asked to be quiet,” which failed.
“My colleague went up to Andile and asked him very politely to control his people, at which point my colleague was outright assaulted by BLF members, including Andile himself.”
He said anyone who was not a BLF member or part of Mngxitama’s “rent a crowd” would probably attest as an eyewitness to that version of events.
Reddy considered the BLF’s approach an assault on media freedom and democracy and said it was “textbook fascist tactics”.
Watch the video below, which shows Mngxitama getting out of his chair with his fist around journalist Stefaans Brümmer’s shirt. Elsmore claims that his video proves Mngxitama is lying and Brümmer never attacked anyone.
Mngxitama has responded to the video by intimating that he was just trying to mind his own business and was provoked by Brümmer.
“White people are crazy. I’m sitting down and being insulated [sic] and threatened but it’s me who [is] the aggressor. They will never change.”