Black First Land First (BLF) leader Andile Mngxitama received numerous messages of support on social media on Sunday evening after making his first public appearance in months after struggling with an undisclosed illness.
It was immediately apparent that he had lost a great deal of weight, although reports suggest he is now on the mend, and he was smiling in videos and photographs on Sunday.
In a public appearance with his supporters, he thanked party members for continuing with BLF work while he was recovering.
The Citizen understands Mngxitama opted to keep his poor health status confidential while he was ill, but people close to him have said that he nearly died.
The BLF will be contesting some municipalities in the local government elections on Monday, but its campaign was very low key due to the long absence of its outspoken, controversial leader whose party was deregistered for a time due to its refusal to allow white people to be members.
Mngxitama has long courted controversy for his hardcore stance that only black people should be considered the rightful owners of land and other resources in South Africa. He was previously a senior member of the EFF and a member of parliament but had a very public fallout with the party and its leader Julius Malema in 2015. He and a group of other EFF dissidents were expelled.
Shortly before his disappearance from public life in about June 2021, Mngxitama was advocating passionately against Covid-19 vaccinations, having previously publicised the myth that the disease is caused by 5G cellphone towers.
The BLF contested its first elections during national and provincial elections in 2019, but failed to win a seat. Mngxitama accused the IEC of not capturing their votes accurately, saying after the results were declared: “We reject these elections … we were robbed. In many instances, results from their voting districts where 50 of our comrades voted says BLF came out with zero votes. A lot of our votes were stolen.”