EFF Trashes H&M Shops in South Africa, in ‘Coolest Monkey’ Protest, Malema Warns More This Year

UK and Ireland ONLY

Members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) went on the rampage on Saturday in malls in Gauteng, South Africa, trashing and shutting down shops in a protest against H&M and its “coolest monkey” sweater advert… which has been creating an international outcry since Monday 8 January 2018.

Source: Twitter/EFF

It’s reported that rubber bullets were used at the East Rand Mall to disperse protesters, and that the protests were nationwide. Videos have gone viral of Sandton City in Joburg and Menlyn Mall in Pretoria being trashed.

According to local reports a Tshwane EFF member gave the Menlyn Mall H&M store 24 hours to close its doors permanently, or face constant protests outside the shop. H&M’s apology is apparently not enough for the EFF.

Many social media users commended the EFF for taking a stand, whilst others accused the group of vandalism and asked what the EFF could do for H&M’s employees if the company shuts down.

EFF leader Julius Malema tweeted Saturday afternoon: “We will never be told by any fool on how to fight against our oppression particularly those who have never been at the picket lines. There’s no formula on how you should fight the oppressor, expect more action against all racists, individually and collectively this year. #Siyeza”

The H&M controversy erupted last week when they released an advert showing a young black boy wearing a green hoodie, emblazoned with the words ‘Coolest monkey in the jungle’ on it.

Speaking in South Africa today, Malema said: “We are not going to allow anyone to use the colour of our skin to humiliate us, to exclude us. We are black we are proud, we are black we are beautiful. We are black and we are not ashamed of being black.”

Swedish-owned company H&M clearly did not intend to humiliate or be racist – in a nation where equality is a much coveted value, it didn’t enter their mind.

But the fact still remains that H&M’s marketing department did not have a global perspective to flag an ad that could cause hurt and offence in other countries in the world – countries in which H&M has branches. This lack of sensitivity was a massive mistake and has revealed the ignorance, naivety and as some say, negligence, of the global brand. It’s also highlighted that the company has an all-White Board of Directors.

H&M removed the image from all its channels and said: “We understand that many people are upset about the image of the children’s hoodie. We, who work at H&M, can only agree.

“We’re deeply sorry that the picture was taken and we also regret the actual print.

“Therefore, we’ve not only removed the image from our channels but also the garment from our product offering.” (Read H&M’s full ‘Coolest Monkey’ apology here.)

Meanwhile the young model’s mother, Terry Mango, said earlier this week that she has been ironically besieged by anti-racists’ racist comments after she defended the advert. She had written on Facebook: “Am the mum and this is one of hundreds of outfits my son has modelled… stop crying wolf all the time, unnecessary issue here… get over it [sic].” Terry, originally from Kenya, lives in Sweden and said that if she had bought the shirt for her son and posted it on Facebook, nobody would have said a thing.

Fake images are currently being shared on social media, purporting to show racist H&M adverts with Asian and Japanese children. These are not real.

Some international stars have spoken out against the fashion chain – pop star The Weeknd (who has done a lot of work with H&M) cut all ties with the company. Customers in the US and UK have called on each other to boycott the store. There have been no reports of people in other countries actually trashing H&M branches like the EFF did on Saturday.