A H&M clothing store in the Sandton City shopping mall, Johannnesburg is photographed closed after protests. © WIKUS DE WET / AFP
Anti-racism protesters stormed multiple H&M stores across South Africa Saturday, in response to an advertisement for the company’s children’s clothing they view as racist.
The protests were staged by members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) who trashed the H&M stores in Menlyn Park Shopping Center, Pretoria, East Rand Mall and Sandton City Shopping Center in Gauteng.
EFF protests were also reported at H&M stores in Gauteng’s Mall of the South and Mall of Africa, and at Clearwater Mall in Johannesburg.
H&M has faced an international backlash this week over an online advert which featured a black child wearing a hoodie reading “coolest monkey in the jungle”. The retail chain apologised to customers via its Twitter account and said the garment was no longer for sale.
The Deputy President of EFF took to Twitter to praise the group’s members for “physically confronting racism”.
Each of the affected shopping centers confirmed the incidents, saying that while no injuries had been reported, security personnel at the malls remained on “high alert” in the wake of the protests.
“All the outlets of H&M in South Africa [were] allegedly targeted by EFF party members simultaneously,” read the statement from East Rand mall.
“The safety and security of our customers, staff and tenants is of utmost importance and the affected area has been secured by the South African Police Services (SAPS),” said Menlyn Park.
Gauteng police said they used rubber bullets to disperse the crowd at East Rand Mall and confirmed that all H&M stores have been closed in response. No arrests have been made.
There are 17 H&M stores located throughout South Africa, according to their website’s store locator. RT.com has reached out to H&M in South Africa for comment.