The Democratic Alliance (DA) says it will lay charges of incitement to violence and destruction of property against the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and its leaders.
The party was reacting to the EFF-led shutdown of healthcare group Clicks’ stores across the country on Monday. Although the protest was largely peaceful, there were reports of some stores being trashed or vandalised.
EFF, led by Julius Malema, were protesting against a Clicks hair advert that appeared to depict African hair negatively compared to white hair.
‘SAPS has a duty’
In a statement, DA MP and shadow police minister Andrew Whitfield said, “We recognise the upset and anger the Clicks advert has caused to many South Africans. However, the EFF’s violent response is unacceptable and SAPS has a duty to act against Julius Malema and others who have made explicit statements inciting EFF members to commit criminal acts.”
Whitfield said the DA will write to Police Minister Bheki Cele and National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole “to ask what steps they will be taking against Julius Malema and the EFF’s incitement to violence.”
He added, “The EFF’s call to violence and destruction of property will affect the livelihoods of thousands of Clicks employees who will bear the brunt of this destruction.
“The DA will be submitting evidence of the EFF’s violent behaviour and malicious destruction of property to SAPS and will put pressure on the National Police Commissioner to ensure that Julius Malema and his thugs are not given special treatment.”
Clicks to take legal action
In a statement on Monday, Clicks said the EFF had protested at 37 of its stores across five provinces. It added that seven stores were damaged, including Saveways in Emalahleni and Cycad in Polokwane.
“Clicks strongly condemns violence of any kind or intimidation against staff and its customers. Clicks will take legal action against perpetrators and those seeking to incite violence or harm our people and our stores,” the group said.
Videos have surfaced on social media showing a group of people, some of them wearing EFF regalia, trashing a Clicks store in Queenstown, Eastern Cape, on Monday. They are seen pushing and pulling down racks of store items to the floor before eventually leaving.
Incidents of vandalism at Clicks stores were also reported in Polokwane and Alberton. Speaking at Sandton City, EFF Deputy President Floyd Shivambu said the party had not issued instructions to vandalise any property.
He said, “It is unfortunate that some of the stores have been burned. I’m sure that there are other people who have [decided] to be more physical about it, but we have not yet gotten there as the EFF. Our action now is just to stop their [Clicks] operations. They must lose profit and they must lose revenue.”
Clicks issued an apology soon after the controversy began on Friday. In a letter to the EFF, it explained that it had not commissioned the advert, which was instead “part of a promotion by Unilever and/or TRESemmé.” The two companies also issued an apology of their own.
The company invited the EFF to a conference call on Monday to discuss the matter and said it was taking disciplinary action against employees involved in the advert.