“Remove or I have the company and this organisation face the public wrath. 12 hours and the campaign begins” the man that shut-down BlackOpinion

By Pinky Khoabane

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How ironic that after years of Blacks being on the receiving end of the most racist vitriol in the comments sections of most, if not all South African newspapers, the online publication BlackOpinion is shut down for being associated with “a couple of organisations which were nefarious in nature,” according to an EWN report.

Writing for the Sunday Times I used to get a range of hateful threats – from greenie beanies threatening to gauge-out my eyes and have me raped and readers who sent me parcels and letters that I wouldn’t open for fear they’d placed bombs in them.

Until 2015 when News24 decided to close down its comments section, it was free for all with the most vicious racist bile spewed on Blacks. Blacks in their docility adopted in the New South Africa, complained bitterly but stood by and did not press charges against the hate speech these online newspapers were carrying. Whites did not come to their defence and demand the sites be shut-down.

And all of a sudden we have a man, A South African expat by the name of Martin Peake, according to EWN, who had “taken it upon himself to launch a petition on state capture” who discovered the offensive BlackOpinion site.

He contacted the Internet Services Providers Association (ISPA) and complained that the site promoted hatred. The EWN report says he also mentioned BLF’s harassment of some editors.

You will remember that South African editors, through South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) interdicted BLF from harassing and intimidating journalists and going to their houses. http://uncensoredopinion.co.za/sa-medias-dangerous-precedents/ Given that a court of law ruled, you’d think the matter was done unless the lobby group defied the order, which would be dealt with within the courts.

However a report of Peake’s ONE complaint, which UnCensored has seen, that prompted the domain host company to shut down Black Opinion simply says this:

“This is Gupta financed false news and is stoking racial hatred”. 

“Remove or I have the company and this organisation face the public wrath. 12 hours and the campaign begins”.

Having received this threat and viewed the content, which the letter from the ISPA does not specify, it instructed the domain host company to inform BlackOpinion to remove the content or face closure. The online publication didn’t comply with the instruction and has now been shut down.

The process by which this decision was reached must be swiftly challenged on the principle of protecting freedom of speech and press freedom. All regulatory bodies that govern the way the press operate have guidelines which when broken, a process is followed and various sanctions are meted to the “offending” party. The Press Ombudsman does this all the time for print media and the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of SA (BCCSA) for electronic media. The offending party is given a chance to answer to clearly laid-out charges and in front of a panel of adjudicators who then make clear findings which we can all read and accept or challenge. For goodness sake, even racists who say the most obvious of hateful speech are given a chance to answer to charges. They are allowed to have representation and not this McCarthy-style process that took place here.

We cannot have McCarthyism being practiced by some regulatory bodies to muzzle the voices they dislike. McCarthyism was a series of small lies which helped legitimise a bigger lie about those suspected of being adversaries of the state, in most cases ordinary citizens were accused of being suspects. Anybody who threatened the state or was suspected of being a threat would be labelled all manner of terms which helped whip-up emotions of the larger populace. The label “Communist” carried detrimental effects on people. They lost their jobs and their children became victims. Many voices were crushed for fear of being labeled. People who called for reforms went underground for fear of persecutions. McCarthyism managed to create populist paranoia that injected fear among people.

In typical McCarthyism, Peake is said to have complained of BlackOpinion’s association with “a couple of nefarious” organisations. Which are these organisations and who determines what is “nefarious”? In the complaint UnCensored has seen, he mentions  “Gupta financed false news” and “stoking hatred” – this is that narrative of the Bell Pottinger falsification that it stoked racial hatred. We’ve already mentioned here that South Africa is a racially divided country and could never be assisted by any public relations company.

There’s nothing in Peake’s complaint that we have seen that mentions the issue of intimidation of journalists on the part of BLF, which as I mentioned earlier was dealt with in a court of law and the issue of some of the posts and articles on BlackOpinion were also addressed in that court. A ruling was made and it did not include shutting down the site.

Many lives have been lost to attain the human rights we enjoy in South Africa today. We have regulatory bodies which openly and transparently address issues which infringe on the rights of others and the related issues of hate speech. We cannot have a bunch of bogey men and women sitting in a room somewhere and taking decisions on content they dislike. The measure of a democracy is protecting the rights of those you dislike. This ISPA must comply with democratic principles and quickly change how it operates. I’m not in any way suggesting they were incorrect in the conclusion they made, the content which prompted the shut-down is not available publicly, but Im simply saying we need to know how they came to that conclusion.

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  1. We need this page of uncensored opinion on Facebook. We need these alternative and unfiltered and not agenda driven views to be available to people. Our people (black people) are fed diatribe, racist, agenda driven and skewed news by main stream media outlets. We need our people to be be informed and not misinformed.

    Thank you Sis Pinky. Keep up the good work.

    1. Thanks Sikhumbuzo, I had a group of people ask me to take it to Facebook. I promised last night that I would do something by the Weekend. I hope I can keep to my work. But yes, I hear all of you. It will also be good as back up for our material.

      Thanks for your kind words


  2. What’s happening in this country is worrying if its was not serious it would be funny…you only have to say Gupta and your name its tarnished all prominent blacks who have a different narrative have been linked to the Gupta family…

    1. McCarthyte style – pour the labels and less evidence and get everybody worked up. Its all well for the public court of law but regulatory bodies cant do the same.

  3. This empty shell Democracy & imposed TRC surely played with our minds!

    Its time to go back to the struggle & use our numbers:

    Boycott all the white monopoly controlled entities, this worked in the 70s & 80s to achieve politican transformation & it will equally work for economic transformation.

    That’s the Power we have,which nobody can take away, we have the numbers (Buying Power), with our few rands.

    This is the time for all people of color to unite & boycott these cartels!

    1. Jeff, we are so used to the “good life” now and there are no black industries that provide just about everything we need, how are we going to survive?

  4. I don’t think that press freedom or freedom of speech apply. No private platform is compelled to let anyone speak. The government cannot stop you from saying something, but no one else has to provide you with a platform.

    Find a different host who does not have an issue with the content, the law is probably not going to be of help.

    1. That’s interesting. However the domain host was instructed by the regulatory body of Internet service providers. The host actually mentions that they have not considered the content at all but was simply instructed by this association. My issue is that this body should adopt the principle of transparency in dealing with content deemed offensive so that the public can peruse it, challenge it and learn from it.

  5. Good morning sis Pinky. if they shut down this site what are the chances that we can receive your publications through social media platforms like facebook, WhatsApp and the likes?
    I feel that the time has come for your publications to reach a wider audience. if there is a contribution I can make I will be glad to make it

    1. Dear Siya

      Thanks very much for your suggestion. Yes, we have to start thinking ahead. As I often say, I have extremely limited resources hence I have tried not to wear myself thin.

      Facebook blocked me some years ago and I haven’t bothered to resuscitate “my good standing” there. But yes, it’s something I must now consider seriously.

      Please let me know how you think you can assist.

      Kindest and much appreciation for the suggestion and help.



  6. Hi Pinky. The present system under the control of the whites trains the Black to be white and at the same time convinces him/her of the impropriety or the impossibility of her/his becoming white. It compels the Black to become a good Black for the performance of which his education is ill-suited. For the white man’s exploitation of the Black through economic restriction and segregation the present system is sound and will doubtless continue until this gives place to the saner policy of actual interracial cooperation—not the present farce of racial manipulation in which the Black is a figurehead.

    1. Dear Phuti

      Thanks for the input although I must say, sometimes liberation seems such a far-fetched idea.



  7. Is there a way we can donate to your activism on a monthly basis? We need BO back urgently please… this censorship is not on. Fwd to freedom of speech. ..Let the Constitutional provisions be respected by all…

  8. Reconciliation and accommodation that’s what happened…all their foundations where shouting the government should have arrested al Bashir for gross human rights violations and you dare suggest that most should have faced the courts for crimes committed againsts blacks they shout Mandela at you…we should have done a Nuremburg at them ..Sparrow’s twitter account is still active I guess she was not stoking racial tension by her tweets and Zille?? “Blackman you are on your own”

  9. We are conditioned not to offend whites, while they use our good nature to continue to propagate their racism. It is the time we “Get-Up and Stands Up for our Rights” We are the majority. Why do we allow the white racist minority to bully us?

  10. There it is. The black man is captured, and I wonder by who between the Guptas and the whites.

  11. Good morning

    Sad and disappointed but not surprised. Freedom but powerless, in charge it not in control . Those who tell the truth are the enemy and the liars are embraced. SA citizens buy news papers to be misinformed and pay tv licenses to be brainwashed, so sad and unfortunately, most of the people are suffering from information blindness and deafness. They can’t differentiate between lies and truth, reality and fiction, so bad. Interestingly, this is happening during Mandela month. Yes, now I get it, this is the benefit of the decisions taken by Mandela and them, Freedom without control, in charge but not in control, these is not Freedom but pure oppression .

  12. True Pinky Maybe I’ve lived a sheltered life, but please help me..The way I understand “freedom of speech” is that I may disagree with you, hate you..but I don’t have a right to silence you..In fact I should protect your right to say anything about me.. We now have the media censoring the alternative media.. Democracy se @#$%&!!..

    1. Sean, I accept that our freedoms are not absolute, they come with responsibility. The problem with this decision is we now have no clue what the “offensive” or “hateful” content was. This association simply instructs the host domain to tell BO to remove the content (they have as the association looked at it and have decided it infringes on some ACT) and therefore it should be shut down. We cant operate in those dark passages of apartheid censorship where there’s no hearing and the right of others to a reply are violated.

  13. I have read some vicious material in the white media. Shapiro the cartoonists also never held back. Attacks on the President from his alleged sexual escapades to Nkandla was a day to day occurrence. Any hint of concern from Black people were rebuffed with “sensitive” “playing the racecard” etc. The Right to Freedom of Expression as espoused by Bill of Rights were thrown in our Black Faces.If that is the price of freedom of speech, well I accepted it. Grew a thick skin, and swallowed alot. Imagine my horror when I saw Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and Websites shutdown in the last week! Not by Government agencies , but the very media that Freedom of Expression is supposed to protect! (Service providers and Internet Regulators are linked to NAspers, News24 and Times Media)

    1. Sean, I must be honest and say Im petrified. We are under attack. Someone said we must take consolation in the fact that it means the work we do is touching a raw nerve. That might be consolation but that’s not what our forefathers fought and died for.

  14. That’s the problem sis Pinky,,we are too docile we like domisticated wild animals…sometimes feel like shouting “where is Karl Zimbiri” nxa

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