Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi took to Twitter on Friday to reject an apology from retail chain Woolworths for a bag in the colours of the old South African flag, often called the apartheid flag, which has since been removed from its shelves.
Lesufi told Woolies to “keep your sorry”.
“Please don’t undermine our collective power to take this battle back to you,” he added.
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, however, responded to Lesufi’s tweet, suggesting that he shouldn’t be talking about “apartheid symbols”.
“Chief, for 25 years your government hasn’t changed apartheid street names, symbols, statues [and] monuments? Surely [Woolworths] takes it from you [and the Gauteng ANC] that it’s fine to keep apartheid symbols in public [on] celebratory display!” was Ndlozi’s response.
Lesufi had not responded to Ndlozi at the time of publication.
Chief, for 25 years your government hasn’t changed apartheid street names, symbols, statues & monuments? Surely @WOOLWORTHS_SA takes it from you & @GautengANC that it’s fine to keep apartheid symbols in public celebratory display!
— Mbuyiseni Ndlozi (@MbuyiseniNdlozi) October 17, 2019
It was reported on Thursday that Woolworths found itself having to issue an apology after the colour scheme of a bag design from their Country Road range struck a nerve with the South African public.
A South African shopper by the name of Coenie Oosthuysen shared an image of the bag on social media platform Reddit along with the caption: “Somebody done f*d up big time. Someone in Country Road’s design department is about to get fired.”
The bag’s colour scheme matches that of the old apartheid flag.
Less than three months ago, the Equality Court ruled that badly intentioned public displays of the old South African flag, often referred to as the “apartheid flag”, should be limited, since “gratuitous display” constitutes not only hate speech but also harassment, and could be interpreted as an expression of white superiority, divisiveness, and severe racial prejudice.
Business Insider reported that the brand had since apologised for the bag the publication had previously reported was sold in Australia. It has since clarified that the bag was being sold in South Africa after being designed in Australia.
Country Road told the publication that it regretted that the applications of its seasonal colours had caused offence and confirmed that they had pulled the product from its shelves.
The brand explained that it had always featured the signature Logo Tote characterised by its five-stripe design. The bag is updated seasonally in new colours and this year’s seasonal Country Road colours for summer are Azure Blue, Marshmallow, Orange, Baby Blue, and Navy.
“[We] offer our sincerest apologies to all our South African customers. It is never our intention to cause offence and we have decided to discontinue sales of this item,” Country Road told the publication.
(Compiled by Daniel Friedman. Additional reporting, Kaunda Selisho.)