South African protesters ransack H&M stores over 'racist' ad

A
logo is pictured on a retail shop of Hennes & Mauritz
(H&M) in Geneva
Thomson
Reuters

By Alexander Winning

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Protesters angered by a “racist” H&M
advertisement ransacked several of the Swedish fashion group’s
South African stores on Saturday.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) protesters targeted six
H&M stores in the Gauteng province, where South Africa’s
economic hub of Johannesburg is located, tearing down shop
displays and throwing clothes around, police said.

In one instance, officers fired rubber bullets to disperse the
protesters, the police added.

H&M earlier this week issued an apology for the widely
criticized ad, which featured a black child modeling a sweatshirt
with the slogan “coolest monkey in the jungle”, and said it had
removed it from all its marketing.

But Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, spokesman for the ultra-left EFF, said that
was too little, too late.

“The time of apologies for racism are over; there must be
consequences to anti-black racism, period!” Ndlozi wrote on
Twitter, posting pictures of a vandalized H&M store and video
footage of chanting EFF supporters.

H&M South Africa did not respond to a request for comment,
but its local website carried an apology for the advertisement.

“Our position is simple, we have got this wrong and we are deeply
sorry,” the apology read.

Police said they were monitoring the protests, but that they had
made no arrests so far.

Protests over perceived corporate wrongdoing have a history of
turning violent in South Africa, where some drivers for
ride-hailing service Uber have had their vehicles torched over
the past year by regular taxi operators.

(Reporting by Alexander Winning; editing by Alexander Smith)

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