nc4p2Several Woolworths stores have been affected by the monthly #BoycottWoolworths National Day of Action that took place today across South Africa. Late last year Woolworths sought a court order to try and prevent the #BoycottWoolworths campaign and protest actions. BDS South Africa, as an organisation, has agreed in good faith to refrain from in-store protest actions. The court order which BDS South Africa intends on fully respecting, however, does not extend to other organisations and/or entities which are not a part of BDS South Africa.

Branches of the PSA, PSC, ANC, ANC Youth League, YCL, EFF, NC4P, COSAS and students belonging to the South African Students Congress (SASCO) as well as others were seen in and outside of various Woolworths stores throughout the day staging flash mobs, pickets and other forms of protest. According to reports, some stores were forced to temporarily close while others were brought to a complete standstill.

One store that was affected was the Waterfall Mall Woolworths store in Rustenburg – a new site of the campaign. A #BoycottWoolworths protestor in Rustenburg said: “We as supporters of the #BoycottWoolworths campaign are taking the famous Seng Khatele #BoycottWoolworths flashmob that was staged at Woolworths stores in Johannesburg to new cities and towns of the North West province. We intend to hit each and every Woolworths store in this province, each and every month. We trust that other activists are doing similar protests in other provinces.” The “Seng Khatele” flashmob was previously perfomed at Maponya Mall in Soweto and Rosebank Mall in Johannesburg on previous #BoycottWoolworths National Days of Action (click here for video). The lyrics of the original song has been adapted to:

“Oooh Woolworths kwenze njani?!
Udlala Ngathi…
Why unga sitjeli, umuThandi Mali Yethu…

Ufuna lokhu, Na Lokhu, Na Lokhu
Tomorrow Lokhu, Na Lokhu, Na Lokhu…

Nale Israel, Ine Problem…
Iya Bulala, Ama Palestine…

CHORUS

Sesi’khathele… Sikhathele…
Wena nama Israel….
Niya si_User…
Sesi’Khathele… Woolworths…
Ama Israel… Nama Products Wabo…”

While Woolworths is attempting to prevent the #BoycottWoolworths campaign, Woolworths’s strategy is proving unsuccessful. Woolworths needs to realise that they can try to cage the singer but not the song. Woolworths can try to stop BDS South Africa, a single organization, but the campaign has thousands of supporters and other organisations that are continuing the #BoycottWoolworths campaign. The way to resolve this is for Woolworths to have the courage to do what other retailers are doing across the world: end ties with Apartheid Israel till it ends its oppression of the Palestinian people.

In Johannesburg, a journalist, Faizel Patel, was arrested by members of the SAPS’s Tactical Response Unit who were called by Woolworths. Patel was asked to delete pictures of the #BoycottWoolworths protest – which he was covering as a journalist. Patel refused to do so, and was arrested. In addition, TRU members also forced activists, and other members of the public including children to delete pictures.

The #BoycottWoolworths campaign was launched in August 2014 by the National Coalition 4 Palestine (NC4P), BDS South Africa, COSATU, ANC Youth League, MJC and various other organisations. The #BoycottWoolworths campaign is calling for the complete boycott of Woolworths until it ends its Israeli trade links. The campaign has received wide spread attention and support from various South African Government Ministers, artists, well known personalities and anti-apartheid stalwarts. According to a report by a Wits University researcher, the #BoycottWoolworths campaign has cost the company, at a minimum, over R8 million a month (click here for report).

We put it to Woolworths that its in their hands and interest to end their trade with Apartheid Israel. Woolworths can easily source locally or from other friendly countries and the campaign will end. This is not an unfair request to Woolworths.

PRESS STATEMENT DISTRIBUTED BY MICKAEEL COLLIER FOR NC4P (National Coalition 4 Palestine)

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