H&M stores trashed by anti-racism group over ‘monkey’ ad (VIDEOS, PHOTOS)
The protests were staged by members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) who trashed the H&M stores in Menlyn Park Shopping Center, Pretoria, East Rand Mall and Sandton City Shopping Center in Gauteng.
EFF protests were also reported at H&M stores in Gauteng’s Mall of the South and Mall of Africa, and at Clearwater Mall in Johannesburg.
H&M has faced an international backlash this week over an online advert which featured a black child wearing a hoodie reading “coolest monkey in the jungle”. The retail chain apologised to customers via its Twitter account and said the garment was no longer for sale.
Sandton City H&M. Right now!!! EFF boycotting "monkey" sweater. pic.twitter.com/wjjQCM9IAq— Buhle Manyathi (@B_Manyathi) January 13, 2018
The Deputy President of EFF took to Twitter to praise the group’s members for “physically confronting racism”.
That @hm nonsense of a clothing store is now facing consequences for its racism. All rational people should agree that the store should not be allowed to continue operating in South Africa. Well done to Fighters who physically confronted racism. pic.twitter.com/cgdedYGoOj— Floyd Shivambu (@FloydShivambu) January 13, 2018
Each of the affected shopping centers confirmed the incidents, saying that while no injuries had been reported, security personnel at the malls remained on “high alert” in the wake of the protests.
“All the outlets of H&M in South Africa [were] allegedly targeted by EFF party members simultaneously,” read the statement from East Rand mall.
“The safety and security of our customers, staff and tenants is of utmost importance and the affected area has been secured by the South African Police Services (SAPS),” said Menlyn Park.
#sapsGP Several incidents of protests at H&M stores around the province have been reported. At the East Rand Mall the protesters managed to enter the shop & stole several items. #SAPS members had to intervene and dispersed the group of protesters by firing rubber bullets. SW pic.twitter.com/4tX528zgW2— SA Police Service (@SAPoliceService) January 13, 2018
Gauteng police said they used rubber bullets to disperse the crowd at East Rand Mall and confirmed that all H&M stores have been closed in response. No arrests have been made.
There are 17 H&M stores located throughout South Africa, according to their website’s store locator. A spokesperson for the retail giant told RT.com on Monday that no staff or customers were injured in the protests and stores will reopen "as soon as the situation is safe again".