The South African National Editors Forum (Sanef), amaBhungane managing partner Sam Sole and HuffPost SA editor-at-large Ferial Haffajee on Tuesday launched an urgent application in the North Gauteng High Court to convict Black First Land First (BLF) leader Andile Mngxitama for contempt of court.
In court papers, they argue that BLF and Mngxitama are in contempt of a court order handed down by Judge Corrie van der Westhuizen on July 7, and that "Mngxitama is to be arrested and imprisoned for a period of three months (90 days) immediately upon the granting of this order, such order for arrest and imprisonment being suspended indefinitely". They further ask the court to fine BLF and Mngxitama R100,000.
This follows the disruption of an amaBhungane speaking event about the Gupta leaks in Johannesburg by Mngxitama and BLF.
Their application called on the court to interdict both BLF and Mngxitama from intimidating, harassing, assaulting, threatening, coming to the homes of journalists, or acting in any manner that would constitute an infringement of the personal liberty of any journalists.
The application further called for the BLF and Mngxitama to be prohibited from making any threatening or intimidating gestures on social media, on the BLF web page or on personal Twitter pages.
BLF and Mngxitama have been given time until Thursday, August 3, to reply to the urgent application. The case is set to be heard next week on Tuesday August 8.
Sanef applied for an interdict against the BLF and Mngxitama after Business Day editor Tim Cohen, as assaulted as he tried to take a picture of BLF supporters outside Tiso Blackstar editor-at-large Peter Bruce's house in Johannesburg.
Judge Van der Westhuizen granted the interdict against BLF and Mngxitama on July 7.
On evening of July 27, BLF supporters disrupted a debate about state capture and the Gupta emails, hosted by the amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism.
Sanef chairperson and News24 politics editor, Mahlatse Gallens, condemned the actions by BLF at the amaBhungane gathering.
"It is quite despicable that the BLF has no respect for the rule of law and our Constitution. They are now trying to shut down spaces for free expression," Gallens said.
AmaBhungane is a non-profit company founded to develop investigative journalism in the public interest.
Together with the Daily Maverick and News24, amaBhungane has led the investigation into the emails allegedly leaked from the Gupta family.
These have exposed the extent of the family's influence in the South African public sector.
* A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the applicants have asked for Mngxitama to be arrested. They are asking the court for a suspended sentence of three months.