Johannesburg – Health and beauty retailer Clicks has secured an interim order interdicting the EFF from intimidating and threatening employees and customers.
South Gauteng High Court’s acting judge Norman Manoim made the ruling on Tuesday after legal counsel for both Clicks and the EFF made video submissions on Monday night.
The order says the EFF is prohibited from threatening and intimidating Clicks and its employees.
The order does not stop the EFF from demonstrating outside Clicks outlets, but it does prohibit the Red Berets from threatening Clicks customers and inciting violence against the ordinary commercial operations of Clicks.
Shortly after the order was made, footage on Twitter by SABC journalist Samkele Maseko showed the Sandton City Clicks branch being closed and staff – who had changed out of their uniforms – leaving as EFF supporters watched closely.
In Menylyn, Pretoria, African News Agency (ANA) photojournalist Timothy Bernard captured EFF supporters in song outside a Clicks store. A customer who walked though the crowd was seen being pushed in the video as EFF supporters chanted protests songs.
On Monday, Clicks said 445 of its outlets around the country had been closed after the EFF staged protests over a racially offensive advertisement from TRESemme was published on the Clicks website, describing black women’s hair as frizzy, dull, dry and damaged.
Clicks has apologised and placed two junior staffers on suspension, while TRESemme has also apologised and said they will be investigating how the advert came about.
Responding to the interdict, EFF spokesperson Vuyani Pambo said: “We would like to categorically state that we have not engaged in or commissioned any violence against employees, customers or commercial operations of Clicks.
“All members of the EFF have, under our instruction, engaged in disciplined protests, engaging prospective customers of Clicks on the racism perpetuated by the entity and engaging workers on the conditions they face while working for Clicks.
“The actions of the EFF have been characterised by peaceful protest across all outlets and to voice dissatisfaction of the violence of racism in the form of a picket does not constitute violence.
“Essentially, Clicks has lost in its attempt to interdict the protest action of the EFF as the interdict issued by the court does not speak to the protests being undertaken by the EFF across the country,” the EFF said in a statement.
The EFF said “agent provocateurs” had infiltrated their protests and they wished to “tarnish the good name and reputation of the EFF”.
“These elements will be identified, isolated and dealt with severely.
“Our interactions with customers and employees have been peaceful and we would like to advise all law enforcement agencies to read the court order carefully and appropriately to avoid infringing on our constitutional right to demonstrate,” said the EFF.
The ANC Youth League’s Crisis Committee had also condemned what it called the EFF’s violence during the protests on Monday and called on law enforcement authorities to act.