Clicks in Eikestad Mall was closed on Monday as a small group of members from the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) protested in front of the store.
The protest was part of nationwide demonstrations by members of the political party after an advertisement published on Clicks’ website by one of its suppliers, TRESemmé, which depicted black natural hair as “dry and damaged” and “frizzy and dull” while white natural hair was depicted as “fine and flat” and “normal”.
The advert was taken down after widespread outrage on social media and Clicks issued an apology soon afterwards.
Despite the apology from Clicks, Nosipho Makamba-Botya, Deputy Chairperson of the EFF in the Western Cape, told Eikestadnuus, they will continue to protest until their demands are met by Clicks. This includes their demand that Clicks publish the names of the people or company who approved the advert. Makamba-Botya participated in the protest at the store in Eikestad Mall.
“We want to put a very clear message out there to Clicks in terms of what they’ve done regarding the distasteful advertisement. The racial elements they are bringing to the public in South Africa is terrible.
“How can they continue to depict such colonial and racist elements in their advertisement? I’ts very bad. The advertisement proves Clicks has no transformation.
“We are here to bring back the dignity of our black communities. We are here until 12 September. We will continue to be here until they respond.”
The Gauteng High Court granted Clicks an interdict against the EFF on Tuesday 8 September.
The interdict prohibits EFF members from intimidating or threatening Clicks employees or customers. However, peaceful protests are allowed.
Clicks CEO, Vikesh Ramsunder, said in a statement on Monday he is “deeply disappointed” the retailer allowed “insensitive and offensive” images to be published on their website.
“I apologise unreservedly for the hurt and anger these images have caused.”
According to Ramsunder, the negligent employees have been suspended and the retailer has engaged with the supplier who has also issued an apology.
Clicks also announced on Tuesday that all TRESemmé products will be delisted and removed from shelves.
Ramsunder also said: “As a company we cannot change what happened, but we are learning from this. We are committed to effecting real, systematic change across our business that reflects our pride in being a truly South African company. We have done a lot in terms of transformation. This issue has clearly highlighted that we have a lot more to do.”
Tim Flack, public relations officer of the Stellenbosch Community Policing Forum (CPF), said in a statement following Monday’s protest during which Clicks was closed, that “this sort of political intimidation is not appreciated or tolerated in Stellenbosch and indeed the rest of South Africa.
“Reports of Clicks stores being petrol-bombed and trashed by criminal thugs have made headline news all over the country. To avoid the same happening in Stellenbosch, police, Law Enforcement and security companies worked hand-in-hand to ensure the safety of the staff and patrons of the mall. At no time were any of the members on scene violent, threatening or abusive and as Stellenbosch CPF we applaud the efforts of all involved.
“In a social media post on Facebook we see clearly the lack of respect for law enforcement by the protesting members who are merely employed for the safety of everyone in Stellenbosch. This sort of behaviour is not only unacceptable, but disgusting and totally uncalled for.”
According to Flack, security companies are armed and allowed by law to bear arms.
He says: “While we recognise the freedom to protest is enshrined in the Constitution, there are other more meaningful ways to deal with problematic adverts in the media space. We have Equality Courts that are there for such matters. Stopping hard working people from earning a living is unacceptable.
“Thank you to Brigadier Sonjani and his team of dedicated police officers, Law Enforcement and security companies in Stellenbosch for going above and beyond to keep our town and it’s people safe.”
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