Molefe Seeletsa
Digital Journalist
5 minute read
7 Sep 2020
10:44 am

Video: EFF shutdown protests see Alberton store set alight, Witbank store petrol-bombed

Molefe Seeletsa

The party has been calling for Clicks to shut down its stores on a voluntary basis.

EFF members at sat Clicks in Sandton City on Monday morning. Image: Twitter / @JacarandaNews

Despite the Clicks Group issuing an apology on Friday over their “racist advert”, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) are currently protesting outside various Clicks stores across the country in a bid “to shut down the retail company”.

The advert described two black women’s hair as, “dry and damaged” and “frizzy and dull”, while white women’s hair was labelled as “fine and flat hair” and “normal hair”.

With EFF’s members protesting across six venues on Monday, Clicks, however, confirmed that it would continue trading as normal.

Protests are happening at the following locations:

  • Mall of the North, Polokwane
  • Sandton City, Gauteng
  • Mall of Africa, Midrand
  • Highveld Mall, Emalahleni
  • Goodwood shopping centre, Cape Town
  • Menlyn Mall, Tshwane

According to Mpumalanga police spokesperson Brigadier Leonard Hlathi, the Clicks store at Highveld Mall has temporarily been closed after it was petrol-bombed earlier on Monday morning.

Hlathi told The Citizen that luckily the store did not catch fire, but did sustain some damage to its entrance glass doors. He further said the incident was currently under investigation.

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The Clicks branch at Lemon Tree Mall in Alberton has been burning, although it could not immediately be confirmed that the fire was as a result of the protest action.

The party has been calling for Clicks to shut down its stores on a voluntary basis.

“If Clicks does not close, our members in all the branches will shut down all 880 Clicks outlets across the country from Monday 7 September 2020 to Friday, 11 September 2020,” warned the EFF in a statement issued on Sunday.

The EFF has also demanded the following:

  • Immediate termination of the company contracted, which commissioned the advert.
  • The company to publicly list the names of all its directors and employees who were involved in the commissioning of the advert.
  • All people involved in the commissioning of the advert – whether employees or independent contractors, be dismissed with immediate effect.
  • Public listing of service providers or contractors who commissioned the advert.

The party also issued a statement telling the retail company to go to hell after they received a four-page letter from Clicks’ lawyers to condemn the party’s plan to shut down the company’s stores.

“Your racist lawyers of Pravin Jamnandas Gordhan and your racist client, Clicks, can go to the nearest hell. Black dignity or death, we shall overcome,” read Sunday’s response from the EFF.

The lawyers, Werkmans Attorneys, has previously represented Minister of Public Enterprises Minister Gordhan in his court battles.

Meanwhile, in an open letter, Clicks Group CEO Vikesh Ramsunder confirmed that hair company TRESemmé South Africa were the suppliers of the images while the employees who worked on the advert have been suspended.

Ramsunder said that although TRESemmé provided that images, the matter did not absolve Clicks from the blame.

“This is why we took accountability for this error of judgment by issuing a public apology and swiftly removing the offensive material from our website,” he said.

“Already, the negligent employees have been suspended, and we have engaged the supplier, who has now also issued an apology.

“This incident has highlighted the need to audit all of our 3rd party (and our own) promotional material for any implicit or explicit bias as well as the need for diversity and inclusivity training for all of our head office employees.”

The CEO further said that the retailer would prioritise its diversity and inclusion training programme after having a board meeting over the weekend.

“We will be re-looking at its content, extend it wider and implement with more urgency and focus. As a long-term advocate for natural hair, Clicks has invested heavily in the natural hair market over the past three years.

“We work with an extensive list of suppliers – more than 20 – to ensure that we stock more than 40 natural hair care ranges in our stores. Since 2005, we have grown the number of natural hair products on shelves by over 4,000%.

READ MORE: Clicks faces EFF’s wrath, but brand damage could be even worse

“As a company, we cannot change what happened, but we are learning from this. We are committed to effecting real, systemic 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,” he added.

TRESemmé has also issued an apology, saying the images did not support the brand’s values.

“The campaign set out to celebrate the beauty of all hair types and the range of solutions that TRESemmé offers, but we got it wrong,” the statement on the company’s website said.

“We are looking into how this happened and why it wasn’t picked up, and we will take all necessary steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” it added.

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