Government calls for calm as protests affect over 400 Clicks stores across SA

The aftermath of a protest at a Clicks store in Alberton on Monday.
The aftermath of a protest at a Clicks store in Alberton on Monday.
Image: Ekurhuleni Disaster Management

The government has called on South Africans to not take the law into their own hands, to remain calm and follow the correct channels to address their concerns over a Clicks advert portraying black hair as “dry and damaged”.

Minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu said the government had noted the public outrage over the advert.

“Whilst we are equally disturbed by the crude racist display by the advertisement in question, the acts of lawlessness of vandalising and burning down Clicks stores that have been reported today are concerning and go against the spirit of peace and respect for human rights that has shaped this country since the dawn of democracy,” said Mthembu.

“Engaging in lawless behaviour is not a responsible way to resolve conflict.”

Clicks said in an update on Monday that protest action had affected 425 of its stores across the country during the day.

"At last count, 51 stores have closed in the Western Cape, 92 in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, and 302 in Gauteng and elsewhere," Clicks said in a statement.

"Clicks is working with Saps to ensure the safety of staff, customers and members of the public ... Clicks provides a much-needed healthcare service to South Africans and will continue to trade."

Clicks said it had "taken full accountability and apologised unreservedly for the advertisement published on its website and is committed to effecting real change across the business."

The government called on members of the public who witnessed any form of intimidation or act of violence to report them to police.

“We remain committed to the values of democracy. Any form of discrimination or violation of human rights for whatever reason cannot be tolerated as it undermines the progress made in building a united, democratic country,” said Mthembu.

Mthembu said the fight against discrimination remained the government’s priority.

“It is for this reason that in March 2019 cabinet approved the national action plan to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, a tool that empowers government to act against such injustices,” he said.

“Even in the face of resistance by a small minority, we continue with efforts to build a united South Africa that we can all be proud of.”

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