Woolworths has issued an apology to South Africans after a photo of a Country Road tote bag with apartheid flag colours went viral online.
A Reddit user, Coenie Oosthuysen, shared the picture earlier this week. It was reportedly taken at a local Woolworths store.
Oosthuysen accompanied it with the caption, “Somebody done [messed] up big time.”
The image itself had another caption: “Someone in Country Road’s design department is about to get fired.”
Designed in Australia
The bag had large stripes coloured in orange, white and blue, the same colours contained in the apartheid flag.
Country Road told Business Insider South Africa that the bags were designed in Australia, adding that it regretted the use of the colours.
“[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,” the brand said.
Social media reaction
South Africans on social media expressed disappointment at Woolworths for the apparent lack of foresight.
Twitter user Olwethu Sipuka wrote, “The temperature alone at Woolworths @WOOLWORTHS_SA stores confirms where they stand on apartheid.”
@NiniQwawekazi added, “Shame of such goods being sold by @CountryRoad via @WOOLWORTHS_SA Buyer & Designer thought such a design is appropriate given the racial tension in South Africa.”
Some however came to Woolworth’s defence. @mys_Tree asked, “But was it just a colour scheme, or were they intentionally catering to a certain demographic? Visa is different cos it’s everywhere…”
A Reddit user, Suidland, wondered, “Yeah, it’s the Prince’s Flag! And it’s part of Dutch culture. Are you also mad about The Bronx’s flag in New York?”
PeetRoodt, another Reddit user, argued, “It is an international product by an international company.”