UPDATE: Police confirm rubber bullets fired in H&M protests as shop looted
Johannesburg – Police have confirmed that rubber bullets were used to disperse protestors wearing EFF regalia at the East Rand Mall on Saturday.
Police spokesperson, Colonel Lungelo Dlamini, said protestors had managed to gain entrance to the H&M shop in the East Rand Mall and steal several items.
“Police had to intervene and dispersed the group of protesters by firing rubber bullets,” Dlamini said.
In Menlyn, protestors had also managed to enter the shop and threw clothing around.
“At this stage nothing has been reported to have been stolen,” Dlamini said.
H&M stores in other areas are reported to have been closed, and police are monitoring the situation.
No arrests have been made so far.
Speaking outside the H&M in Menlyn Mall, Tshwane chairperson of the EFF, Benjamin Disoloane, said the protest was against H&M, which was a “racist shop" based on their actions as reported on in the media.
READ: H&M withdraws 'monkey' hoodie after black child ad outrage
“We are here to tell them. We don’t want them to say anything to us, we are telling them to close the shop. If they are not going to close the shop, they must just know we are going to be here almost every day, starting from today,” he said.
Disoloane also issued an ultimatum to the shop management, demanding that they force H&M to close.
“This shop must close. We want to call this management of this complex to make sure as from today this shop must close. If they want peace they must close this shop,” he said.
Protests also hit H&M in Cape Town
EFF protestors also targeted H&M stores in Cape Town, including the store in Canal Walk.
Bernard Joseph, EFF Western Cape chairperson, said they were protesting against H&M, and were hoping to convince H&M management to refrain from portraying their children as monkeys coming from the jungle.
"We trust that H&M will listen to our demands," he said.
However, shortly after H&M's HR manager Randall April read out the formal apology relating to the advert to the protestors, which was issued by H&M international on January 9, Joseph was quick to voice his disappointment.
READ: H&M's full apology here
"In terms of accepting or not accepting your apology, it is not my prerogative.
"One of the reasons why we, as the Western Cape are supporting our national leadership in terms of this call, is that it is clear that the Western Cape is rife with racism.
"We can’t accept that H&M, after what they have done, is coming now and saying we apologise."
"Apology se gat," he said.
Eyewitness reports also indicated that EFF supporters had protested at the H&M Waterfront store. One person reported seeing EFF supporters looting the store before police arrived, evacuated the store and closed it, with some protesters still inside.
Gauteng shopping centres “business as usual”
The Sandton City Shopping Centre confirmed on twitter that they had engaged with the team leaders of the EFF and that the protest outside H&M would dissipate after they have been issued with the corporate statement of apology by H&M.