On 9 March 2017, a group wearing ‘Black First Land First’ (BLF) clothing with the slogan ‘Land or Death’ visited the Students for Life orientation week stall, tore up some posters and took down the gazebo.
They were seen moving a box containing pro-life materials, a baby model and personal belongings of students. Students manning the stall were accused of ‘working with whites’ and asked ‘whether the whites had given them land’?
After the incident, the box was missing and was never seen again.
A criminal charge of theft was laid with the Rondebosch police. The previous day, the group visited the Jewish society stall, making hateful statements against Jews. They first denied this, then said they would deal with this internally.
On 30 March 2017, the leader of the disruption, BLF National Spokesperson, Lindsay Maasdorp, made around 20 social media posts (see example below) demanding the removal of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, and spreading various conspiracy theories manufactured by Gupta family public relations agents. Gordhan was fired the same day. Pravin Gordhan was viewed as an obstacle to the Guptas raiding the South African treasury, who he claimed had already defrauded the state of about 100 billion rand. The graphics posted as part of the Gupta fake news campaign look like they are done by the same artist.
The BLF is not a registered Student Society and Maasdorp is not a student, but nevertheless is campaigning on UCT campus. Leaked emails later revealed that ‘Black First Land First’ BLF was following instructions from Gupta public relations agents Bell Pottinger in London, who were receiving a fee of two million rands a month for their services. Following a complaint by Phumzile van Damme, Democratic Alliance shadow Communications Minister, Bell Pottinger was later expelled from the British public relations professional body for spreading racial hatred in South Africa. Bell Pottinger lost its clients and went bankrupt shortly afterwards. Nevertheless the Gupta fake news media campaign continues, using ANN7, The New Age Newspaper and an army of social media accounts including those of the BLF. Analysis shows hundreds of twitter accounts controlled by Gupta computer bots, trying to influence South African politics.
‘Black First Land First’ has been strongly promoted by the TV channel ANN7 and ‘The New Age’ newspaper, also owned by the Gupta family. Likewise, BLF is defending ANN7 against recent threats by Multi-choice to shut it down. Leaked emails indicate Multichoice satellite TV provider apparently made irregular payments to ANN7, apparently for securing favours from the Department of Communications.
According to Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema, Black First Land First (BLF) was founded by a former EFF activist who was deep in debt and who was ‘captured’ by the Gupta’s in exchange for bailing him out of debt.
Following the public relations strategy crafted by Bell Pottinger, ‘Black First Land First’ conveniently include Indians in their definition of ‘Black’ (the Gupta’s are from India), thus trying to re-frame opposition to the Gupta’s as racist.
The BLF continues to campaign to keep President Jacob Zuma in power despite his own party the ANC wishing him to step down. Zuma is accused of facilitating various state deals that enrich the Gupta family.
The same people have either initiated various campus disruptions against the University of Cape Town (UCT) administration and joined other protests to escalate tension. During one of these incidents, Lindsay Maasdorp assaulted UCT Vice Chancellor Max Price. ‘Black First Land First’ has also threatened, harassed and intimidated the editors of major newspapers for exposing Gupta theft of taxpayers money, who obtained an interdict against BLF.
The BLF has also stood guard at the Gupta compound at Saxonwold during anti-Gupta protests and on other occasions organised counter protests.
Ironically, a female student, who motivated the BLF to disrupt the Students for Life stall, based on very serious false charges against Students for Life, a few months later called on women to attack one of the men associated with the BLF who disrupted the stall based on similar allegations. The University later dismissed the charges against the BLF-associated male student, citing lack of evidence.
When apartheid ended, a student political organisation at UCT was exposed as funded by the apartheid security police. When apartheid died, so did their funding and operations. The BLF is funded by the Guptas and will likely disappear when they do.
As for those who may have made a mistake of being involved in the disruption of our stall. Actually, we have had a lot of abortion advocates change their view and come over to join our side – including activists and those who have had abortions. We hope our opponents, reconsider and come and join us – and even if they don’t, change their mind, they can join the many others who calmly debate with us.