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EFF closes 23 Clicks outlets in Free State

Staff Reporter

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) says it has closed at least 23 Clicks outlets across the Free State as it piles pressure on the health and beauty products retailer to act after a hair advert widely viewed as racist was posted on its website over the weekend.

The action is part of nationwide protests by the party against the hair advert, which Clicks claims came from a third party, TRESemmé South Africa.

EFF provincial chairperson Mandisa Makesini told The Free Stater by telephone that the party had closed about eight outlets in Mangaung Metro, 14 in Thabo Mofutsanyana and one in Fezile Dabi.

“We will continue piling pressure on the company until it responds in full to our demands,” she said.

Among its demands, the EFF wants Clicks to suspend the people who were involved in projecting black people as ugly and fire the company that commissioned the advert.

The advert, which the EFF says undermined the dignity of black South Africans by suggesting that the hair of black people is damaged and inferior to that of white people, has four photos of women.

The hair of the two black women is described as “dry and damaged” as well as ‘frizzy and dull”.

But the images depicting the white women’s hair were described as “fine and flat hair” and “normal hair”.

“We will do everything to ensure we fight racism in our country,” said the EFF provincial chairperson.

“We understand that some people are worried about losing their jobs, but they must understand that whatever we are fighting for, they stand to benefit.”

Makesini said it has since come to light that Clicks does not treat and support its black managers in the same way as their white counterparts and the EFF will be taking the company to task on that.

“There are many more things happening at Clicks. Some of the managers are beginning to talk now,” she said.

“It has come to our attention that black managers do not get the same support as white managers and we want that addressed as well.

“We also want to warn any company undermining the dignity of black people that we are coming for you.

“This is a democratic South Africa and all workers should be treated equally.”

Makesini added that her party will ensure more Clicks stores are closed in Mangaung on Tuesday.

The South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union (SACCAWU) described the Clicks advert as racist, shocking and disgusting.

“This kind of racist attitude from a company which employs majority blacks is not only despicable but downright arrogant and disrespectful of the very people who generate their profits . . . as workers and sourcing goods and services as customers,” SACCAWU said in a statement.

“It is ironic that the same profits generated by the ever-toiling black workers are used to mock, ridicule and insult not only the black workers but the entire black population, which represent the majority in this country.”

Clicks has since withdrawn the advert and apologised for it but its efforts to stop the EFF protests at its shops has hit a brick wall.

The South Gauteng High Court on Monday dismissed the retailer’s urgent application to stop EFF protests.

The company had sought to interdict the EFF from interrupting its business operations and stop them from “intimidating and threatening” customers and staff.

The matter was dismissed with costs.

Meanwhile, TRESemmé South Africa and Unilever have also apologised for the advert.

“We are very sorry that images used in a TRESemmé South Africa marketing campaign on the Clicks website promote racist stereotypes about hair,” said TRESemme South Africa in a statement on the Unilever website.

“The campaign set out to celebrate the beauty of all hair types and the range of solutions that TRESemmé offers, but we got it wrong. The images are not in line with the values of our brand, or of Clicks.

“TRESemmé South Africa apologises for the offence these images have caused.

“We also apologise to the Clicks group.

“We are looking into how this happened and why it wasn’t picked up, and we will take all necessary steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

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