An EFF MP is among those arrested after destruction that occurred during protests at Clicks stores this week, police said on Wednesday.
“Ten people, including an EFF member of parliament, have been arrested for charges relating to the destruction of property. The MP has been charged with assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest,” read a statement from the office of police minister, Bheki Cele.
The MP is yet to be named.
Cele called on police to protect Clicks staff, property and customers during this time.
He denounced the vandalism which occurred at several Clicks stores during the EFF-led protests. In Alberton, a store was trashed, while in Emalahleni, a petrol bomb was thrown into the store in the early hours of Monday morning. The EFF has not taken responsibility for the destruction at the Emalahleni store.
In Port Elizabeth, a woman clashed with EFF protesters at a mall in Welmer Park. The 52-year-old woman was caught on video, pointing a firearm at EFF members as they exchanged words.
HeraldLIVE reported she is facing a possible charge after the EFF laid a criminal complaint against her. This after both parties initially declined to lay complaints.
The outrage and protest action against Clicks started after the company ran an advertisement on its website last week which showed a black woman’s hair and described it as being “dry, damaged, frizzy and dull” against that of a white woman’s hair, which was described as “colour-treated, fine, flat and normal”.
The EFF said the advert has racist undertones and called for those who approved the running of the advert to be fired. The party vowed to shut Clicks operations for this week as its members embarked on protests.
Clicks has since explained that the advert was not theirs, but that of a client, TRESemme, which falls under Unilever. The company apologised for publishing the advertisement, took it down and suspended its officials who published it.
On Wednesday, the company decided to stop operations for the day to allow counselling for its staff members who it said were traumatised by the protest action.
Cele agreed that the advert was disturbing.
“The genesis of this advert is glaring racism that is shown by this business and we must collectively condemn it at all costs. The demonstration of such blatant disregard and humiliation of African people can’t go unabated,” he said.
Cele, however, said violence would not be condoned and welcomed the arrests.
“Police should ensure that the rule of law is maintained. They must deal decisively with those who choose to break the law. I’m encouraged that officers are making arrests and urge them to continue to ensure the protection and safety of customers, staff members in the affected areas,” he said.
By Naledi Shange – TimesLIVE