Clicks South Africa forced to close by protests over racist advert

AFRICAN MIRROR REPORTER

CLICKS, one of South Africa’s major beauty and health chains, was forced to close some of its stores after countrywide protests over an advert that depicited African women hair as dry, dull and damaged while the hair of white women was held up as examples of fine and flat hair.

This creative sparked anger, hurt and disbelief on social media platforms and spilled over into the political arena. Yesterday, members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) went to Clicks branches in different cities across South Africa and protested. In some instances, EFF members gained entry to the stores and ransacked them.

The EFF has described the advert as racist, dehumanising and pledged to force all Clicks stores to close for the rest of the week. EFF leaders, who led one of the protests, said his party had written a letter to Clicks and asked them not to open their stores for five days and they refused. “We said to them, suspend the person who was involved in this advert. You must dismiss the company that commissioned this advert. They refused to give us a list of the people who were involved. They refused to terminate the contract of the company that was involved in projecting black people as ugly people. So we are here to teach them a lesson,” Malema said outside Clicks branch at the Mall of the North in Polokwane, Limpopo. 

The Democratic Alliance, the second biggest party in South Africa, said it would lay criminal charges against Malema and EFF for incitement of violence and the destruction of property. 

Clicks has withdrawn the advert, apologised and threatened legal action against anyone who damages their stores. CEO Vikrash Ramsunder said the company was disappointed that it allowed insensitive and offensive images to be published on their website. 

Ramsunder said employees responsible for placing the advert on the Clicks website had been suspended. 

In 2018, the EFF took a similar approach and forced clothing retailer H&M to close after an advert in their catalogue featured a black boy wearing a hoodie with the caption “coolest monkey in the jungle”.

On social media, young black South Africans posted a series of videos affirming the love for their hair and what it means to them.