BLF hit by funding home truth in fight for Brooklyn house
Bruised and battered from poor election results, Black First Land First (BLF) suffered another blow this week when it was forced to give up on a court fight for its supporters who occupied a house in the posh Pretoria suburb of Brooklyn.
Times Select has seen a letter written by BLF leader Andile Mngxitama to attorney Mike Potgieter, the executor of the deceased estate of Willem and Dorothea Serfontein – the owners of the property at the centre of the legal battle.
“We confirm having arranged for the applicant’s attorney (Potgieter) to inform the court ... that the respondent [BLF and the group of illegal occupiers] are hereby withdrawing from this case as they were unable to secure legal representation due to the lack of funds,” the letter reads.
“The respondents ask that the court make no order as to costs (each party to pay its own costs) and the respondents do not have funds to attend the court.”
But Potgieter told Times Select he feared this was just another delaying tactic.
“They’ve said too many lies in this matter and we will just have to wait and hear what the court says on this,” he said.
According to Potgieter, the court is expected to make a ruling on Thursday, and he hoped an eviction order would finally be granted.
In August 2018, Potgieter launched an urgent court application to evict a group of friends who had moved into the house that was standing empty after its owner’s death. The BLF was assisting the group of occupiers legally, and opposed the application. At the time the court struck the matter from the roll on the basis that it was not urgent.
A new date was set on the normal court roll in March 2019, when BLF requested a postponement because it was not ready to proceed with the matter.
Mngxitama said he needed more time to prepare their arguments and also accused Potgieter of giving him short notice.
“We are currently engaging community donors to fund legal representation of our choice and require more time to consolidate the various pledges and donations in this regards,” reads an affidavit submitted by Mngxitama to the court in March.
“In addition, since there is short notice of the hearing date and also the fact that the respondents have not received proper official notice of the set down date of the hearing, I ask on behalf of the respondents that this matter be postponed by at least two months to enable us to prepare for the hearing.”
In August 2018, when Times Select visited the house, the neighbours, who did not want to be named, expressed concern about the situation.
Their sympathy levels with the group of occupiers were low.
“I am worried about the value of my property going down,” said one neighbour. “What kind of people just move into a house and think it’s okay to do so?”
The BLF only secured 0.11% of the national vote in general elections last week, not nearly enough for a seat in the National Assembly.