EFF protests at Goodwood and N1 City malls over ‘racist’ Clicks ad

The Economic Freedom Front (EFF) blocked the entrance of Clicks in Goodwood Mall on Monday, as part of nationwide protests against the health-and-beauty retailer after it was accused of publishing a racist advert.

In a media release last night, Clicks said protest action by the EFF was happening at half of its stores with 51 of them having closed in the Western Cape but they planned to open this morning.

Clicks at Goodwood Mall reopened today but soon closed again when protesters returned.

About 20 EFF members protested outside the Goodwood Mall Clicks on Monday before moving to another Clicks outlet at N1 City.

The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) has condemned as “abusive and intimidatory” the EFF’s treatment of an eNCA reporter and cameraman at the Goodwood Mall protest.

Video footage showed EFF supporters had insulted, sworn at and verbally abused eNCA’s cameraman, Sanef said.

The eNCA reporter and cameraman were chased away by EEF chairperson Veronica Mente. She said eNCA had refused to cover their elective conference last year so the broadcaster had to leave before she would speak.

Goodwood police spokesman Captain Wayne Theunis said the protesters had later moved from the Goodwood Mall Clicks branch to the one at N1 City, but there had been no reports of injuries or damage to property, and no arrests had been made.

N1 City Mall centre manager Mazel Matthews said police and centre security had ensured the safety of all shoppers and tenants and no incidents had been reported.

However other Clicks branches upcountry did not go unscathed, with reports of vandalism and looting. Clicks said seven stores were damaged, including one in Mpumalanga that was petrol-bombed, and another in Alberton that was hit by a small fire.

“Clicks strongly condemns violence of any kind or intimidation of staff and its customers, and we will take legal action against perpetrators and those seeking to incite violence or harm our people and our stores,” the statement said.

At the weekend, the health and beauty retailer said it would trade as normal despite EFF calls for it to close its stores for one week.

Clicks flew into a storm of public fury when it flighted an advertisement on its website for TRESemmé, a hair-care product owned by the British-Dutch multinational consumer goods company Unilever. The advert labelled images of black hair as “frizzy and dull” and “dry and damaged” against images of white people’s hair as “normal”.

The EFF condemned as abnormal the online advertisement describing it as a regression to the apartheid era that discriminated against black people.

The actions of Clicks constituted a human rights violation, said EFF spokeswoman Delisile Ngwenya. The advert perpetuated the violence of colonialism and racism, she said.

Clicks quickly apologised and pulled the advert. “We would like to issue an unequivocal apology,” said Clicks Group CEO Vikesh Ramsunder. “We have removed the images which go against everything we believe in. We do not condone racism, and we are strong advocates of natural hair. We are deeply sorry and will put in place stricter measures on our website.”

The images and content had been provided by TRESemmé but that did not absolve Clicks of blame, Mr Ramsunder said.

The EFF’s Marshall Dlamini rejected the apology, saying the only way the company would learn was if it lost out on revenue.

Unliever Western Cape did not respond to media inquiries. No-one answered the phone at Goodwood and N1 City Clicks branches.